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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Political

Thank you very much Mr. President


Geir, it is good to see you in the chamber with us and thank you for your briefing and of course for your ongoing efforts on the Constitutional Committee.  We sincerely welcome those efforts to focus this Council’s attention on the crisis in Syria and to press all parties to work together on concrete steps towards the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. 


We also very much welcome your initiative to launch virtual Thematic Working Groups, which will allow civil society actors to engage with each other and with the UN, regardless of where they are, geographic location and ability to travel.  We know ourselves from experience and from best practice that peace efforts produce more sustainable outcomes when civil society is adequately, and more importantly meaningfully, included in political and mediation processes, so thank you for that.  


Despite your commendable efforts, I know that the Syrian authorities have yet to engage meaningfully in the work of the Constitutional Committee. 


Ireland reiterates its call on the Syrian authorities to end unacceptable stalling tactics, which leave the prospects for substantive progress at the Constitutional Committee as far away as ever. Regrettably, we are no closer to meeting the expectations of the Syrian people for substantive progress on a political solution and national reconciliation as was foreseen in Resolution 2254.  Such progress is unattainable in our view without a new Constitution that sets out a peaceful and inclusive vision for all Syrians. Sadly, last month’s elections brought us no nearer to that goal. 


Mr. President,


In particular, I want to welcome this morning the participation of Ms. Abeer Hussain with us. We listened with great interest to you Ms. Abeer, to your work focused on empowering women. I see that work as absolutely critical and I happen to believe in your final words to us- no women, no legitimacy. We join in your desire to see what you amply describe as the strong women of Syria to take their rightful place in the peace process in working for equal and full citizenship, in working for justice to reach a democracy. We heard your appeal to see women play a decisive and effective role as a pressing force in the political process on a full, equal and meaningful basis. This I understand as your right, and not as your request.


Mr. President,


While a ceasefire continues to largely hold in the North West, the attack on Al-Shifaa hospital in Afrin was an appalling attack. It resulted in the killing and injury of civilians, including medical personnel and children, and the destruction of parts of the hospital.  Ireland strongly condemns this disgraceful attack and calls for an end to all such attacks. 


This latest appalling incident and the continuing violence underline the importance once again of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.  


Mr. President,


Ireland strongly condemns those parties in Syria who continue to disregard international human rights and humanitarian law.  All must fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including those relating to the protection of civilians and civilian objects.  The Syrian authorities, through their repressive security apparatus, continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain their own citizens with flagrant disregard for due process. 


We must never forget that tens of thousands of Syrian citizens have been subjected to arbitrary detention, as well as those who are missing.  We think of their families left cruelly in limbo, without knowing the fate of their loved ones.  It is unconscionable to us that the Syrian authorities have such callous disregard for their own citizens.


Geir, we very much welcome your continued efforts to make progress on detainees, abductees and missing persons. You have our full support in that work. 


Mr. President,


The violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the Syrian regime are extremely well documented. Ireland has consistently called for full accountability for crimes and violations committed. Ireland commends the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria for their work. The Commission of Inquiry’s reports testify to horrific crimes including the bombing of hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure.


Ireland strongly condemns these acts, as well as attacks against civil society actors and human rights defenders.


To conclude Mr. President,


We call on the Syrian authorities to engage urgently and meaningfully with the Constitutional Committee, and wider political process, as outlined in Resolution 2254. We urge the Syrian authorities comply with their obligations under international law and end their brutal policies. Only when this comes to pass will the Syrian people be able to begin rebuilding their lives and look forward to a hopeful and peaceful future.  As we have often said, this is the very least the long-suffering people of Syria deserve.


Thank you, Mr. President.



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