Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East (Syria), 11 September 2018, New York.
Madam President, Dear Nikki,
I want to convey my country’s profund codolences, sympathies and friendship to the people of the United States on this very significant day. And underlines how important it is that we stand shoulder to shoulder and united in the quest for peace.
First thank you to the Russian representative for his briefing, which is very timely.
Last week, in meeting after meeting, we expressed our alarm over the signs of a military offensive in north-western Syria, as it would risk leading to catastrophic humanitarian consequences, something that needs to be avoided and which indeed is avoidable.
We are deeply concerned by the recent escalation of violence by Syria and Russia in Idlib and surrounding areas. We reiterate that all parties in Syria must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian objects and to comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and avoidance of unnecessary suffering.
We said it before and we repeat it that Idlib is different from other areas. There is nowhere to flee. There are three million civilians living there, including many children and IDPs.
Idlib is a de-escalation area, established by the Astana guarantors, and that is why we all looked to their meeting last Friday with some hope. It is key that they step up efforts to immediately implement their own de-escalation agreement in Idlib, ensure humanitarian access and the protection of civilians and avoid further military escalation.
It is urgent for them to act now to avoid the enormous humanitarian catastrophe that would unfold before our eyes in case of a large-scale military offensive. This is not hypothetical as we have witnessed all de-escalation areas turning into escalation areas over the last year.
The responsibility and ability to avoid a catastrophe, to allow time for dialogue, lies with Syria and Russia. This Council should however also explore all meaningful options to prevent military escalation and find a peaceful solution to Idlib in accordance with international law.
Last Friday, Special Envoy de Mistura presented some ideas, which merit consideration. We need to explore any concrete meaningful suggestions and proposals over the coming days to ensure that the Council collectively shoulders its responsibility.
We remain available to explore all options for preventive action by this Council. We reiterate our full support for the Special Envoy, incl. his efforts to swiftly establish the constitutional committee. A UN-facilitated political solution, in line with resolution 2254, is the only way to ensure a sustainable solution to the crisis, to end suffering and to address the legitimate concerns of all Syrians.
I thank you very much Madam President.