Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Syria
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Syria, 17 October 2018, New York.
Thank you, Madam President,
I want to start by thanking Staffan for your comprehensive and again forward-looking update to the Council today. We commend your continuous and tireless efforts towards reaching a political solution and bringing an end to the conflict in Syria. I want to echo the points of regrets about your mission coming to an end, and of course a very strong message of admiration and gratitude for the work that you have done. Of course, the mission is still ongoing, and as always, we stand fully behind you and you have our full support, including for the way ahead you have outlined today, and the immediacy with which you pursue it in coming weeks.
We welcome that Turkey and Russia have reached an agreement on ceasefire in Idlib. A military offensive in Idlib would not only have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, but it would have put at risk a credible political solution. We now look to the Astana guarantors to live up to their commitments as well as their obligations under international law, and to safeguard the last remaining de-escalation zone in Syria, until a peaceful settlement can be reached.
The ceasefire in Idlib offers an opportunity to reinvigorate the UN-led political process. This opportunity must be seized. As agreed by this Council, the first step towards a sustainable political solution, in line with resolution 2254, is the establishment of a constitutional committee. We must now join efforts and support and insist on the swift establishment of this Committee. And you Staffan, you have the full authority and our support to decide on its composition, procedures and timeframe.
It is critical that the Constitutional Committee is credible, balanced and representative of the Syrian people and reflects the diversity of country. It needs to include Syrians from different ethnic, religious and geographical backgrounds in order to meet those criteria.
Furthermore, women’s full, effective and substantive participation is important for the legitimacy of the Committee. We support you Staffan also here, on your determination to ensure that a minimum of 30 percent are women in the committee and in subcommittees, including the one that will draft the constitutional reform. Women’s meaningful participation is as we all know necessary for sustainable peace and development in Syria and elsewhere.
So in line with the expressed support of this Council for the swift establishment of the Constitutional Committee, we encourage the Special Envoy to continue his efforts to set up the Committee as quickly as possible.
We therefore call on the Syrian parties, in particular the Syrian government, to constructively engage with the Special Envoy and contribute to the UN-led process as well as within the committees’ proceedings once convened.
We also expect all members of this Council, and other relevant actors, to move from words to action and actively support the efforts of the Envoy and his mandate to set up and decide on the composition of the Committee.
We note the envisaged visit to Damascus next week, Staffan, and we welcome your offer to update to the Council on progress immediately after this visit has been completed. And needless to say, the contents and assessment of that report will be very important.
The Syrian people have endured unspeakable suffering for too long. The agreement on Idlib has delivered some modest but concrete and much needed relief. This agreement can and should be used to reinvigorate the UN-led political process. Only the UN has the legitimacy and the credibility for a viable and enduring political solution in line with the resolution 2254.
As others have said, Syria has reached a fork in the road. As members of this Council we must shoulder our responsibility; sending a strong and unified message in support of the UN efforts, and stepping up our joint efforts towards the road that leads to a credible political solution.
I thank you very much Madam President.