Explanation of vote by Sweden following the vote on UN Security Council draft resolutions S/2018/516 and S/2018/520
Explanation of vote delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden, following the vote on United Nations Security Council draft resolutions S/2018/516 and S/2018/520 on the Middle East, 1 June 2018, New York.
Congratulations to Russia for assuming the Presidency. And, our profound admiration and appreciation to Poland for the way you conducted business as Chair and President of the Council for May.
It is highly regrettable that the Council was unable to find unity around a meaningful decision in response to the situation in and around Gaza over the last few months.
Sweden voted in favour of the draft resolution presented by Kuwait for a number of reasons.
Firstly, because it called for full respect by all parties for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including regarding the protection of the civilian population. The resolution requested the Secretary-General to recommend a mechanism for this purpose.
Secondly, the text condemned all acts of violence, including acts of terror. It deplored both any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by Israeli forces against civilians in Palestine, and the firing of rockets from Gaza against civilian areas in Israel.
Thirdly, it called for immediate steps to end the closure of Gaza. While fully understanding the legitimate security concerns of Israel, Palestine and Egypt, we have repeatedly called for a lifting of restrictions and full and sustained access for all donors.
Fourthly, this text welcomed and urged further engagement by the Secretary-General and the Special Coordinator to assist in immediate efforts to de-escalate the situation on the ground. We urge all parties to act with utmost restraint to avoid loss of life, break the cycle of violence and prevent a new conflict.
I want to pay tribute to the Kuwaiti delegation for facilitating this draft. We all know the sensitivities of the matter at hand, but our Kuwaiti colleagues have displayed good faith, inclusiveness, flexibility and transparency during the negotiation process.
Regarding the draft resolution proposed by the United States. We believe that the language did not address the full reality or context of the situation in Gaza, including the violence and tragic loss of life that we have witnessed since last March.
In addition, the proposal did not contain important language on International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian access; of fundamental importance to the people on the ground.
The draft resolution did not address the end state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that this Council has been striving for, for many years: a negotiated two-state solution, based on international law, previous agreements, relevant UN resolutions and known parameters.
Furthermore, the draft resolution was not presented for negotiations or consultations between the members of the Council in accordance with established procedure.
For these reasons, while sympathetic to many aspects of the draft, we abstained on this text.
While the Council could not agree today, we must not abdicate our responsibility under the Charter.
On Wednesday the Special Coordinator clearly warned us of how close to the brink of war we currently are and of the pressing humanitarian situation in Gaza. The Council must come together to address the crisis and the tension. Otherwise we risk sliding into another devastating conflict like we did four years ago. This is indeed about conflict prevention.
The Special Coordinator presented a plan last week that included the urgent implementation of already approved projects for Gaza, which would have immediate benefits for the daily lives of people; the revival of efforts to empower the Palestinian Authority to take up its responsibilities in Gaza; and sustaining the 2014 ceasefire understandings on the ground, including halting the militant buildup.
Sweden stands ready to contribute to efforts in this Council to take such measures forward with renewed urgency and determination.
I thank you very much, Mr President.