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Russia’s statement at UNSC: French resolution ‘betrayal of Syrian people’

Published time: May 22, 2014 20:13
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, May 22, 2014. (Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, May 22, 2014. (Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

Moscow and Beijing have blocked a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes of the Syrian government. Russia’s envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin explained the decision.

Mr. President,

We understand the motives of many delegations who supported or co-sponsored today the draft resolution referring the Syrian file to the ICC. We share their emotions caused by the crisis in Syria, which has been dragging on for way too long. It is hard to see the destruction, loss of life and suffering of people.

It is more difficult to figure out the motives of France which initiated this draft and put it to vote, being fully aware in advance of the fate it will meet. One can hear many complaints about the lack of unity on Syria within the Security Council, among P5. Indeed, when that unity is present we manage to achieve concrete positive results. Among them is undoubtedly the Security Council Resolution 2118 on the destruction of the Syrian chemical stockpile – that program is about to be successfully completed. Another important benchmark was the Security Council Resolution 2139 on humanitarian issues. P5 unity is important. After all, it is for a reason that France has been pushing for P5’s engagement in the political settlement of the crisis, having failed however to advance any positive substantive ideas.

Then why deal such a blow to P5 unity at this stage? Is it just to try once again to create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict?

One could not overlook that the head of the French diplomacy saw it fit to take advantage of his recent visit to Washington to publicly criticize the United States for refusing to shower missiles and bombs on Syria last fall.

It should be pointed out that this damage to P5 unity is inflicted at a critical point in the efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

An involuntary hiatus created by the resignation of Lakhdar Brahimi should be used for an in-depth, fair and collective analysis of the situation, for seeking out any possible reserves with the view to break the vicious circle of violence. Useful food for thought in this regard is contained in the “political testament” left by Lakhdar Brahimi to the Security Council on May 13.

This is exactly what the draft Security Council resolution tabled by Russia aims at – to foster the process of “local truces”. The draft is not to the liking of our western colleagues who claim that the settlements already achieved do not care standards. One cannot but recall a Russian saying: A bad peace is better than a good quarrel.

And what are our Western colleagues proposing instead? Talk good for naïve people that they will be supplying new types of weapons to “good” opposition groups only? Their list of the “good guys” now includes the “Islamic Front”, which has openly confessed to a series of brutal terrorist acts, including a recent one in Aleppo that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians. I would note that our western colleagues are demanding that cross-border humanitarian deliveries to Syria be conducted through border-crossings controlled by the Islamic Front. At the same time, they have blocked for a long time any condemnation by the Security Council of numerous terrorist acts committed in Syria.

It is pursuing the regime change by force in Syria at all costs that precipitated the drawing out of the crisis and undermines the Geneva negotiations. It is indicative that Ahmad Jarba, leader of the National Coalition, did not make the effort to show up during the Geneva negotiations and instead travels the world in search of weapons. And Ahmad Al-Khateeb, his predecessor, was removed from office just for attempting to launch talks with Damascus to stop the bloodshed.

In this context it leaps into the eye that there is not a single word on the political settlement and the negotiations process among Syrians in the communiqué of the latest May 15 meeting of the so-called “London 11”. And the western “troika” was taking great pains to dissuade the Secretary General and his Special Envoy from calling another round of Geneva negotiations.

What justice can one talk about when the overriding policy aims at escalating the conflict? The draft resolution rejected today reveals an attempt to use the ICC to further inflame the political passions and lay the groundwork for eventual outside military intervention.

It should be noted that the so-called “Caesar Report” used to build up tension ahead of the introduction of this draft was based on unconfirmed information obtained from unverifiable sources and therefore cannot serve as a platform for taking such a serious decision.

One cannot ignore the fact that the last time the Security Council referred a case to the ICC – the Libyan file by its Resolution 1970 – it did not help to resolve the crisis, but instead added fuel to the flames of conflict. And after the cessation of hostilities the ICC – to put it mildly – did not rise to the occasion. The ICC does not contribute to a return to normalcy or justice in Libya, evading the most burning issues. The death of civilians as a result of NATO bombardments was somehow left outside its scope. Our colleagues from NATO countries arrogantly refused to address this issue alltogether. They even refused to apologize. And they wax eloquent about shame! They advocate fighting impunity, but are themselves practicing the policy of all-permissiveness.

The United States frequently shows the path towards the ICC to these or those, but it is reluctant to accede to the Rome Statute itself. And in today’s draft the United States insisted on an exemption for itself and its citizens.
Great Britain is a party to the ICC, but it is for some reason unenthusiastic about the exploration that began there of the issue of crimes committed by the British nationals during the Iraq war.

If the United States and the United Kingdom were to refer their Iraqi file to the ICC together, the world would see that they are truly against impunity.

Mr. President, we proceed from the premise that the Geneva Communiqué of June 30, 2012 remains at the core of efforts to settle the Syrian crisis. The Communiqué interprets the principle of accountability and national reconciliation as interrelated, leaving the leading role in this process to the Syrians themselves,

We are convinced that justice in Syria will eventually prevail. Those culpable of perpetrating grave crimes will be punished. But in order for this to happen, peace is needed first and foremost. Russia will continue to exert every effort to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible. We call upon our Western colleagues to abandon their futile dead-end policy of endlessly heating up the Syrian crisis. We invite everyone who really values the interests of the Syrian people to join us in the efforts aimed at a Syrian political settlement.

To state as the Permanent Representative of France has done today – that the political process does not exist any longer – is simply irresponsible. This is truly – betrayal of the Syrian people.