Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Syria (Political)
Statement28 April 2021
Mr. President, given that this meeting combines both political and humanitarian agenda items, I will now briefly say a few words in my national capacity about the political situation.
Geir, thank you again for your briefing today.
We note with regret and disappointment the lack of substantive engagement by the Syrian authorities in the work of the Constitutional Committee to date, and hope that the response you referred to this morning Geir is a positive one. Despite your intense efforts so far, intransigence continues to frustrate the possibilities for real progress at the Committee. The results of the Committee’s work continue to fall far short of the legitimate expectations of all the Syrian people.
On 22 April, the Secretary General released his report on Children and Armed Conflict in Syria documenting the terrible scale of grave violations committed against children. Over 2,700 children were verified as killed or maimed within just that two-year reporting period. Ireland condemns the unconscionable violations against children committed by all parties to the conflict, and urges all to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law. These parties, and those with influence on them, must take immediate actions to protect innocent Syrian children.
Ireland calls on all parties to take concrete and effective measures to prevent and end child casualties in the conduct of hostilities. The recruitment of children simply must cease and all children should be unconditionally released from the ranks of all armed groups.
The plight of families left to suffer without information about their missing loved ones, is another cruel and a brutal form of collective punishment.
It is especially concerning that persistently high numbers of children are detained for alleged associations with conflict. Children caught in conflict must be treated primarily as victims. The parties must provide comprehensive information on and access to all detainees, particularly children. They must identify non-custodial alternatives for children and release them. Child protection actors simply must have access to detained children.
Geir, your continued efforts on detainees, abductees and missing persons have our full support.
In Ireland, we strongly believe in the centrality of education as a building block for progress of society. Attacks on schools and their use for military purposes are reprehensible and we call for an end to that. Children in areas controlled by armed groups of course should have access to a recognised curriculum. All parties should remove practical obstacles to education in areas under their control. Every child should be allowed to enjoy a natural right to education in accordance with their best interests and hopes for a better future.
Accountability for violations of International Humanitarian Law and international human rights law is essential. Ireland commends the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria for their work.
Their reports, and others, including from civil society, testify to horrific crimes including the bombing of hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure.
Ireland clearly condemns these acts, in particular those on the hospital near Atareb and on humanitarian infrastructure near Bab al-Hawa on 21 March, as well as attacks against civil society and human rights defenders.
Finally, Mr. President
It is past time for this Council to shoulder its responsibility and call on the Syrian authorities to engage meaningfully within the Constitutional Committee and importantly with the wider political process, as outlined in resolution 2254.
This Council should also insist that the Syrian authorities comply with their obligations under international law and end brutal policies, so that the people of Syria can live their lives in freedom and without fear.
Thank you, Mr. President.