Statement by Ambassador Jim Kelly at UNSC Briefing on Syria - Political
Statement15 March 2021
Thank you Madam President,
As we meet on the tenth anniversary of the outbreak of conflict in Syria, we reflect with deep sadness on the tragic human toll which this conflict has taken on the Syrian people.
Today marks ten years of appalling and needless suffering; ten years of unbearable conflict, leading to countless deaths of innocent civilians.
As you yourself said Madam President, a generation of Syrian children have grown up knowing nothing but conflict; denied their childhood and their education, living in fear rather than looking forward in hope.
This Council and the international community has a responsibility to act, a responsibility to help ensure that the Syrian people escape the nightmare of this terrible conflict, a responsibility that, to date, it has yet to meet. This must not continue.
Special Envoy Geir Pedersen, thank you for your briefing, and for your intensive work on the Constitutional Committee and the wider political process.
Despite your efforts, the lack of meaningful engagement by the Syrian authorities, continues to undermine the work of this committee. The results achieved to date continue to fall far short of the expectations of the people of Syria.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Special Envoy for briefing at last week’s Arria-formula meeting – on the occasion of International Women’s Day – on his efforts to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in the political process. Geir, we commend your ongoing engagement with the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board and with other civil society groups too. As you yourself so aptly observed, the women of Syria are determined to be agents of their own future, and not ‘victims of decisions made by others’.
This is particularly important when we consider the deeply gendered impacts of the war, including appalling levels of conflict-related sexual violence, and sexual and gender-based violence, which have been extensively documented. Sexual violence particularly is prevalent in government detention centres, and widely used as a tactic of war, torture and terrorism.
Ireland calls again for an immediate end to these human rights violations and abuses and for accountability of the perpetrators.
We strongly support the work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria as well as the work of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.
The reports of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and others, including from civil society, testify to brutal acts, including the bombing of schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.
Ireland condemns these acts, as well as attacks on civil society and human rights defenders.
I want to thank Mr. Bernard Duhaime of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for his informative and impactful briefing on that groups very important important work;
Those subject to arbitrary detention continue to suffer prolonged incarceration, compounded by the Covid pandemic. Families are left to suffer, in limbo, without information about their missing loved ones. This is an unconscionable situation.
Special Envoy Pedersen, we commend your continued efforts on detainees, abductees and missing persons, and we urge you to strengthen your engagement on these issues, including with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and other bodies;
Ireland supports your calls on the Syrian authorities and on other parties to release those who have been arbitrarily detained and abducted.
10 years of war has produced the largest displacement crisis of our time with almost six million Syrians now refugees across the world and the same number internally displaced. Regrettably, conditions enabling their safe and voluntary return as well as the return of internally displaced persons to their homes remain a distant prospect. Only sustained progress on respect for human rights and accountability will create the conditions to enable Syrians to return home without fear.
In closing, Madam President, let me concur with the Secretary General that while any political solution must be Syrian-owned and Syrian-led, the international community and this Council must seek to fully support that process.
For Ireland, there is still time for the Council to meet its responsibility. This Council should call on the Syrian authorities to engage meaningfully within the Constitutional Committee and a wider political process, as outlined in resolution 2254.
This Council should also continue to demand that the Syrian authorities comply with their obligations under international law and end their brutal policies of suppression, creating instead a Syria where human rights are protected, and people no longer live in fear.
Thank you Madam President.