Statement on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait at the Security Council Briefing on Syria
Statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait at the Security Council Briefing on Syria, 28 February 2018, United Nations, New York.
Thank you, Mr President,
I make my remarks today on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait as co-penholders for the humanitarian track of the Council's work on the situation in Syria.
I would like to thank Mark Lowcock for his, once again, very sobering update. We share his sense of urgency, following the agreement of resolution 2401 last weekend, to fully exploit this 30 day pause so that the United Nations and its partners can dispatch life-saving aid convoys and begin medical evacuations.
Since the adoption, we have been asked, as penholders, when the resolution takes effect and who it would apply to. We are very clear. The resolution took effect upon adoption and applies to all parties across the whole of the country. The clock is ticking. There is no time to lose.
Let me also sincerely thank Jeffery Feltman for his briefing today. We share his deep concern over reports of flagrant lack of compliance with the ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta.
We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all members of the Council for their constructive cooperation, enabling the adoption of resolution 2401. The resolution represents decisive and meaningful action by the Council in response to the calls from the United Nations, the humanitarian community, and, above all, the civilian population in Syria.
However, the value of a resolution is not in its passing, but in its implementation. We must now all build on the spirit of cooperation that led to the resolution's adoption and work together to ensure that it is enforced. Compliance with the resolutions of this Council is not optional; it is an obligation of all member states. The humanitarian community stands ready to do its part. The Council, having adopted this resolution, must now do our part.
Council members and member states present in this chamber: For the next few weeks, let us seize the opportunity that this resolution represents and focus on its implementation. We would like to make four concrete recommendations on the way forward:
First, existing de-escalation agreements must be complied with, most urgently for Eastern Ghouta. We call on the three Astana Guarantors to spare no effort to this end. Resolution 2401 clearly demands that all parties cease hostilities; airstrikes, the ground offensive and shelling must stop.
We take note of the initial positive indications from armed opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta that they are ready to comply with the resolution and their commitment to expel the al-Nusra Front from the area. We must build on this, and we call on those with influence over armed opposition groups to secure their commitment to the cessation of hostilities. Clearly the Council has demanded in resolution 2401 that the Syrian government cease all military operations, without delay.
Second, as Mr Lowcock has told us, the United Nations and its implementing partners in the field are ready to commence life-saving convoys and medical evacuations. We urge the Syrian authorities to immediately issue facilitation letters for the convoy to Douma to proceed this week as a necessary first step. It can no longer be business as usual; the Council has demanded weekly convoys to all areas and populations in need.
Third,existing structures to strengthen compliance and monitoring of the cessation must urgently be activated. We look to the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Ceasefire Task Force to undertake more frequent meetings, which are needed at least on a weekly basis. The Amman operations room should also be utilized. We see merit in making a clearer link between monitoring mechanisms and this Council.
Fourth, the Council must remain actively seized of this matter. Sweden and Kuwait will request an open briefing from the incoming Presidency on the Secretary-General's report on implementation and compliance that is due 15 days after the resolution's adoption. We should also stand ready to meet and to take appropriate action at any time necessary to ensure full implementation of this resolution.
Finally, we welcome any efforts to de-escalate violence and to allow and facilitate humanitarian access in Syria, but let us be clear: resolution 2401 demands a 30-day, nationwide ceasefire, with immediate access for weekly convoys and medical evacuations. A five hour ceasefire does not meet the requirements of the resolution. This resolution is not primarily about the evacuation of civilians, but demands humanitarian access to civilians and medical evacuations. The cessation of hostilities must be implemented fully and without delay. It is imperative that all parties uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law – at all times.
Last Saturday's unanimous action reinforced the legitimacy and credibility of this Council. Today's briefings demonstrate that there is no time to rest on this achievement. We must now move – without delay – to ensure our action here last Saturday is translated into the relief and assistance expected by the millions of people affected by this conflict. It is now incumbent on all the parties and all those with influence over the parties, to spare no effort and to use all channels available, to advance the full implementation of resolution 2401.
I thank you, Mr President.