National Statement by Sweden at the Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East
National Statement by Sweden, Ambassador Olof Skoog, at the briefing on the situation in the Middle East. Wednesday, 12 April 2017, New York.
I thank Staffan de Mistura for his efforts. We stand fully behind you and the Secretary-General and the political solution that you tirelessly strive for, and which can be the only way forward.
When I spoke in this Chamber last week, I said that we expressed our outrage at the atrocity in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. But let's not forget too that every day the Syrian people continue to suffer the brutality of war in all its forms. Despite the horrifying images and gruesome descriptions in the world media, the heroic effort by humanitarian workers, and the endless discussion in this Council over the years, this - now routine - brutality has continued unabated. It is high time to end the war in Syria.
I believe we have reached a critical moment. In order to move forward, Sweden calls upon this Council and the wider membership present in this room to redouble their efforts on four fronts: 1) Reinvigorate the political process, 2) Revitalise the ceasefire, and 3) Grant full humanitarian access, and 4) for this Council to fully shoulder its responsibility.
First: We all know that a political solution is the only way to end the Syrian tragedy that has now lasted over six years. The shared objective remains a negotiated transitional political process, in line with resolution 2254. We therefore welcome the conclusion of the fifth round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. The next round of talks should resume as soon as circumstances allow. We offer our wholehearted support to the Secretary-General's Special Envoy and his leadership, including his efforts to ensure the full and effective participation of women and civil society in the political process.
While we welcome the progress from the talks and that both parties have engaged on all 3+1 baskets, we still feel that they need to do more. In the next round, the Syrian government's delegation needs to seriously, meaningfully and concretely engage on all baskets. The opposition delegation has engaged constructively and maturely, but needs to continue efforts to maintain unity. We welcome the valuable input of the opposition's Women's Advisory Committee, which gives women a voice in the process.
Second: Over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed an intensification of fighting. The ceasefire developed through the Astana process is increasingly threatened. The UN-led political process will be seriously at risk without an effective nationwide ceasefire. We therefore urge the guarantors of the ceasefire agreement to live up to their commitments from Astana and to step up their efforts, including towards a more effective monitoring mechanism. We call upon all actors present here today with influence over the parties to help put an end to violations.
Third: We all urgently need to do more to increase humanitarian access. Convoy deliveries during the last week of March shows that access to besieged and hard to reach areas is possible - when there is a will. We call on the Syrian authorities here today to simplify the approval process, as requested by the UN. We urgently need a systematic shift to sustained and unhindered humanitarian access. UN aid convoys are ready to assist 300,000 people every week who are suffering in horrendous conditions in hard to reach and besieged areas. They must be given the administrative approvals to do so
With regard to the repugnant attack in Khan Sheikhoun on 04 April, we regret that the Council has, so far, not been able to agree on a strong resolution. There must be a rapid, full and impartial investigation to confirm the use of chemical weapons and those responsible for this horrendous attack must be held to account. And we will continue to pursue efforts to this end.
Unspeakable atrocities and crimes against humanity have been committed during this conflict. While long overdue, we must now do our utmost to end the war in Syria. We all agree on the need for a sustainable political solution. Let us therefore engage seriously to make it happen. This is a shared responsibility – particularly for this Council.