GA: On the situation in Syria

10/20/2016 // Statement given by Iceland's Ambassador and Permanent Representative Einar Gunnarsson on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to the General Assembly on the situation in Syria, 20 October 2016.

President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.

We thank Special Envoy de Mistura for his briefing and for his tireless efforts at this enormously challenging time.

We, as members of the United Nations, cannot simply stand by and watch the military escalation result in the total destruction of Aleppo. We deplore the indiscriminate and excessive bombardments by the Syrian regime and Russia. This conflict has already caused the deaths of far too many innocent civilians.

The message from the Nordic countries is clear:

  • The heavy and indiscriminate attacks inflicting devastation and harm against civilians, hospitals, medical personnel, humanitarian workers and schools must stop.
  • Priority must be given by all sides to protecting civilians and facilitating humanitarian relief.
  • All violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and throughout Syria must be brought to an end and all those responsible must be held accountable. This includes attacks using chemical weapons as confirmed by the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
  • The Syrian regime is obliged under international humanitarian law to give immediate, full, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.

President,

The Security Council must live up to its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. Last December, the Council passed resolution 2254, which clearly laid out a political roadmap to bring an end to the conflict. In February, it passed resolution 2268 laying out the steps required to maintain the Cessation of Hostilities.

The lack of political will to follow through has led us to where we are today, and the failure of Security Council unity has prevented much needed progress on the political track. We regret that Russia has continued to block attempts in the Security Council to implement previous commitments on cessation of hostilities and full humanitarian access.

The Nordic countries strongly urge the Security Council to ensure that resolutions 2254 and 2268 are fully implemented. All parties need to engage in negotiations of a genuine political transition. We encourage Syrian civil society, including women’s groups, to continue to present options for the processes ahead.

This conflict can only be solved through political means. It is incumbent upon us all, and particularly those countries with influence, to do everything in our power to bring peace to Syria. That is our collective responsibility.

Thank you.


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