We must bring what is happening in Belarus to the world’s attention and hear from those on the ground. Briefers on #BYHumanRights: UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anaïs Marin; Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Vice-Chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center, Valiantsin Stefanovic; Legal Expert for the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Volha Siakhovich. The meeting is chaired by Urmas Reinsalu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The meeting was initiated by Estonia and co-sponsored by UN Security Council members the United States and United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

Statement in the Security Council on the situation in Syria

Dear Mr President,

 

First, I would like to thank Special Envoy Pedersen and Under Secretary-General Lowcock for their briefings from the UN side.

It is clear, that unfortunately the ceasefire agreements established by the Astana format have failed. Instead of peaceful living, the de-escalation areas have turned into war zones, with daily bombardment from the Syrian regime and Russia.

In this light, we remain extremely concerned about the possible full-scale military confrontation of Turkish, Russian and Syrian regime forces on the ground. That is why we are glad to hear today our Turkish colleagues in this Chamber, to inform us about the recent developments in detail.

Nevertheless, we already heard from the briefers, that the large-scale offensive in the Idlib Province has resulted both in loss of 1300 lives, as well as displacing more than 700 000 people in the past four months. Is this really a ceasefire?

At least six Turkish soldiers were killed in an artillery attack by the Syrian army on Monday. Is this, what you can call a de-escalation?

Estonia joins those countries here today, who are demanding a nationwide humanitarian ceasefire to stop the unfolding catastrophe.

The reason for this – is not only the immense human suffering that the indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment of the Syrian army and Russian airplanes bring to the Syrian people.

It is also because of the intricate link between peace and political process, which the Security Council resolution 2254 highlights. Stopping the violence – that is the simple precondition for a meaningful dialogue.

However, the continued military operations by the Syrian regime and its allies harm this prospect, and undermine the trust of the Syrian people towards this Council, where we are sitting right now.

Indeed, no one is denying that there are radical elements in Idlib, but this does not justify indiscriminate attacks against a civilian population. Deliberate targeting of schools, hospitals and other protected civilian infrastructure is a violation of international humanitarian law, and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Accountability mechanisms, such as the IIIM – supported by the UN General Assembly – are crucial in that regard, as they help to collect evidence on these crimes.

Syria is not only the presidential palace in Damascus, but also the thousands of tents of civilians in Idlib. So, besides the representatives of the Syrian regime, we also hope to hear the voices of other Syrian parties here in the Council more often. We will work closely with Council members to achieve this goal!

Let us not forget, the political process, and more precisely the Constitutional Committee, have in it equal parts of representatives from both the Syrian authorities and the legitimate opposition.

Finally, the solution to Syrian crisis can be political only, through a genuine political transition in line with resolution 2254. This starts with a nationwide ceasefire and guaranteeing unhindered access of humanitarian aid to all people in need. What is happening in Idlib right now, contradicts these aims completely.

Thank You!