GA: Syria

Statement delivered by Permanent Representative Ambassador Mona Juul to the UN General Assembly meeting on the Russian veto on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the cross-border operation into Syria, 21 July 2022.

We welcome the opportunity for the GA to convene and discuss this critical issue; and use this important mechanism to enhance the transparency and accountability between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

However, we do regret the necessity of the GA meeting for the second time under the veto initiative in only three months since it’s adoption.  

We deeply regret the veto that was cast in the Council.

This sole veto by the Russian Federation prevented the adoption of a resolution which would have set up a 6-plus-6 extension of the authorisation for the cross-border humanitarian aid operation into Syria.

This formulation already presented a significant compromise from the 12 months that the Secretary-General, and humanitarian agencies on the ground, told the Council- and the world- was a minimum needed to serve the nearly 4.1 million people – 2 million of which are children- through the only remaining humanitarian crossing in the Northwest of Syria.

This is not just a border crossing; it is a lifeline.

As penholders in the Council, Norway and Ireland’s objective was always been clear: that humanitarian aid must reach all people in need in Syria.

After engaging intensively over the last year, we set out what we considered to be a fair and careful compromise which was, regrettably, vetoed. The veto cast certainly cannot be considered to be in the interest of international peace and security.

Because of one member, the Security Council stumbled in its responsibility to put the needs of Syrians first, and to ensure humanitarian relief can reach those who rely on it.

It is fortunate the Council was able rise to its responsibility, and finally come together and around a new draft adopted last week. Let me be clear: delays in Council action have areal-world impact for those who rely on this lifesaving aid.

The Council’s inability to act in a timely way undermines its credibility.

For the humanitarian organizations operating on the ground, a predictable mandate is necessary to be able to plan and implement the humanitarian response-
via cross-border, cross-line, and for implementation of early recovery projects.

The cumulative cost for the Syrian people resulting from the ambiguity of the cross-border mechanism in the past years has already been unacceptably high. The resolution adopted allows for an extension of six months, with an expectation of an additional six months when confirmed by the Council.

We cannot have another situation where the people, the humanitarian organisations, and UN staff in Northwest Syria, have to sit and wait while SC negotiations run into overtime. And this time in the depths of winter when assistance is most urgently needed.

We hope this meeting today sends a strong message about the General Assemblies’ expectation that the Council lives up to its responsibility to- at all times- put the humanitarian imperative over politics.

It is incumbent upon every one of us to come together for the sake of the people of Syria, to support humanitarian deliveries by any modality- and indeed to reach a desperately needed political solution for the people of Syria.

To put an end to the need and the suffering.

We call on all to support the parties to engage urgently and constructively with the efforts of the Special Envoy to reach this end.