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

Thank you very much indeed, Mr. President, and at the outset I wanted to, knowing that it is the last day on the Security Council for the representative of the United States, I wanted to send my personal best wishes to Kelly for her future, and certainly to remind her not to forget her Irish roots as she leaves one family and returns to another.

Mr. President, Mark, Geir, thank you very much for your briefings today, you have set out very starkly indeed the enormous challenges that we still face in Syria. Mr. President, I will concentrate today on the political issues only, as Norway has just spoken on behalf of Ireland as co-penholder on the humanitarian aspects.  

Today is another painful recognition, that after almost ten years of a brutal war with devastating consequences for the ordinary people of Syria, we seem no closer to a credible political solution that can implement Resolution 2254 of this Council.

That is no reflection on Special Envoy Pedersen and his dedicated team, but it does stem largely from the lack of serious engagement by the Syrian authorities in the political process. To be clear Geir, Ireland fully supports the UN’s role and commends you and your team for the sterling work you do and also for the briefing you have given us today. 

It is welcomed news that the Constitutional Committee members continued their dialogue on national foundations and principles, but clearly progress to date, is neither sufficiently rapid, nor substantive enough.

Ireland can only hope that at the upcoming Fifth Session we see all parties working urgently, and we underline, sincerely towards concrete outcomes on the basic principles of the Constitution.

I want to commend especially the work of civil society members of that Committee, and welcome in particular your ongoing consultation and engagement with Syrian women representatives, including the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board.  In such dire circumstances on the ground we know that conflict has the greatest impact on the lives of the most vulnerable and that usually very often, that means women and in this case Syrian women.  But we also know they are resilient women, and we know that the work of the board is highlighting the importance of ensuring their full and meaningful,   equal participation in political life. This is being done when those women are facing challenges that would defy many of us.  We will keep saying that and support that Geir.

Progress on the Constitution is a critical part of the work we need to do to find peace. There are also several other vital aspects of Resolution 2254, which must be urgently addressed if Syria is to achieve sustainable peace.

Violent conflict and terrorism remain, we know, a grim reality for many ordinary Syrians. In your words Geir, a fragile calm largely continues, but it still falls far short of the lasting and verifiable nationwide ceasefire as we demanded in Resolution 2254. Shelling, airstrikes and IED attacks continue to kill and injure civilians. This of course is completely unacceptable, and not sustainable we know.

As we see it, there can be no sustainable peace without accountability and no true peace without justice.  We believe that it is imperative that those who are responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and for human rights violations and abuses be held to account, and that the recommendations of impartial mechanisms including the UN Commission of Inquiry, and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, be implemented.

We firmly believe we should collectively stand against impunity and ensure that those who torture, murder, and commit other heinous crimes be held accountable.  The evidence of serious violations and abuses have been extensively documented.  Accountability and reconciliation are linked and are key to sustainable peace.

As pointed out by the Special Envoy, we have yet to seen meaningful progress on detainees, abductees and on missing persons.  Ireland supports your call Geir for significant action, including provision of access to prisons and detention facilities; so that we can have real information on the missing. Action on these issues is urgent, it is also essential as a confidence building measure.

Today, millions of Syrian people, ordinary Syrian people, remain scattered as refugees, and the conditions necessary for them to return, in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner are far from being achieved. Only a credible political solution can lead to these conditions. We hope to see that urgently.

Ireland remains concerned that ISIL and its affiliates remain active and are of course exploiting the vacuum that exists in some parts of Syria. The European Union is contributing by non-military means to the Global Coalition to counter ISIL/Da'esh for the stabilisation of North East Syria.

After nearly a decade of conflict, the political process quite simply has failed the ordinary Syrian people. We regret that deeply, as they continue to suffer unconscionably – both inside and outside Syria. Only once again, a political solution can end this suffering, and prevent continued conflict and instability. 

Geir, we will continue to work with you. You can count on Ireland as you work with the Syrian authorities, and we hope the Syrian authorities will sincerely engage with those efforts. We want to restore peace, justice and above all hope to the people of Syria.  

Thank you, Mr. President.


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