Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UN Security Council on the situation in Syria (Political)
Statement28 September 2021
I want to thank you, Special Envoy Pedersen, for your briefing and express the deep appreciation of my country, Ireland, for your ongoing and tireless efforts.
I also want to sincerely thank Ms. Rouba Mhaissen for her impressive remarks this morning. Your voice, and through you, the voices of the countless communities affected and displaced by this tragic conflict, are exactly what this Council needs to hear. Your presence today matters and I want to thank you.
Regrettably, we meet again against the backdrop of extremely limited political progress. For millions of vulnerable people, that means another month of conflict. Another month of suffering and loss. Another month without hope.
We reiterate our call on the Syrian Government to cooperate constructively with the UN and to engage fully and in good faith with the efforts of the Special Envoy.
The upcoming round of negotiations of the Constitutional Committee is a welcome development. It presents a rare opportunity now for real progress. I urge all parties to grasp that opportunity. Otherwise put, we cannot afford to squander this chance.
Our briefers today have put into stark relief the fact that peace and stability remain distant dreams for the Syrian people. We know that there are differing views around this table about how to address that. But let us be clear: when we are divided here, it is almost always the vulnerable who suffer the consequences. As High Commissioner Bachelet set out last week, a decade of conflict has already caused over 350,000 identifiable deaths. This is unconscionable and cannot continue.
A comprehensive political solution, in line with Resolution 2254, is more urgently needed now than ever. To achieve that, addressing the root causes of the conflict as well as the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons, remain fundamental.
In Ireland, we know that inclusive peace is sustainable peace. It is critical that Syrian women, representing all backgrounds, are fully, equally and meaningfully involved at all levels in the political process.
We all know here that Syrian women and girls have been disproportionately affected by this devastating decade-long war. They have been subjected to horrific sexual and gender-based violence as well as early and forced marriage. Many experience food insecurity and lack access to education and healthcare.
Despite these challenges, and as Rouba has so clearly described, the women of Syria are keeping faith with the future of Syria, and are playing a critical role in leadership, development and conflict resolution. We salute their courage and commitment. Their resilience inspires us. We should listen and learn from their valuable experiences. Put simply, their meaningful participation – about which some of us often pay lip service in this room – is an actual reality and is key to achieving long-lasting peace.
We are deeply concerned by reports of the explicit targeting of refugees returning to Syria. Unfortunately, the fact remains that Syria does not yet offer a safe and stable environment for the sustainable and dignified returns of refugees. I want to underline that all returns should be safe, voluntary and dignified.
As we speak, tens of thousands of Syrians desperately await news from missing and disappeared loved ones. Tens of thousands more, including women and children, remain unlawfully deprived of their liberty. I repeat our call on the Syrian authorities and other parties to release detainees and abductees in meaningful numbers.
The ceasefire in Dara’a city earlier this month was a positive development. However, we remain concerned about its fragility, as well as the lasting impact of the fighting that took place.
The worrying escalation of violence in North West Syria has also continued, at a time when COVID is surging. We continue to receive reports of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects. These remain utterly unacceptable.
Finally, I want to repeat Ireland’s longstanding call for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.
Once again, we say sincerely, that it is incumbent upon us, here at this Council, to do all in our power to support the efforts of the Special Envoy and to prevent further destruction and loss in Syria.
Now is the time to act.
The people of Syria have waited too long and suffered too much.