Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia after the UNSC vote on renewal of Syria's cross-border mechanism of humanitarian deliveries
Our delegation made the difficult decision to support the adoption of a resolution renewing (until 10 July 2023) the UN mandate for the functioning of Bab-al-Hawa crossing point which is used to deliver humanitarian assistance to terrorist-stuffed Idlib from across Syria’s border with Turkiye. This however should not be perceived as a change of our principled position on the Syrian cross-border humanitarian mechanism (CBM).
Needless to say that as it is, the resolution does not meet the aspirations of the Syrian people, who expect the Security Council not only to take effective humanitarian efforts, but also to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria, and do so not just in words but in deeds.
Preserving of the CBM, which also violates the generally accepted norms of humanitarian assistance, in no way helps to achieve this goal.
Russia’s vote today signifies our appreciation for the previous penholders, Norway and Ireland, and the way they approached the negotiations of the draft resolution this time. Also, it is our credit of trust in the new penholders of the Syrian humanitarian file in the Security Council, Brazil and Switzerland. Hopefully, they will justify this trust and demonstrate a truly depoliticized and objective approach to addressing the problems that are proliferating in Syria. To that end, there are six months of time and a useful toolkit that includes three rounds of informal interactive dialogue (IID) and report of the UN country team in Syria about the negative impact of illegal sanctions, that should be presented to the Security Council in full measure.
Everyone must have a clear understanding that when it comes to the CBM, there can be no “automatic” rollovers. Another 6-month renewal in July will only happen if by that time the approach of UNSC members to provision of humanitarian assistance to Syria changes in terms of quality.
So far, we see that Western delegations address this topic in an opportunistic manner and have no intention to fulfil the provisions of UNSC resolutions 2585 and 2642 in good faith. They never cared about the needs of ordinary Syrians, and they still do not. Everything they worry about is preserving the CBM as a tool to exert political pressure on Damascus and supporting terrorists from “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” who benefit from humanitarian deliveries effected through the CBM. Instead of giving a fair assessment to this situation and trying to fix it, our Western colleagues on the Council keep propelling the myth that cross-border deliveries allegedly cannot be replaced by cross-line that does not breach Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
To achieve this, Western delegations (unfortunately, together with representatives of UN agencies playing along with them) are doing their utmost to obfuscate the real statistics of humanitarian assistance. Members of the Council had the opportunity to see those “feint maneuvers” during the three IID rounds that we have had. But even that failed to conceal the fact that there is a grave misbalance in the geography of early recovery projects in Syria. The facts are self-explanatory. Half of the money goes to Idlib, and only 35% is allotted to territories where the majority of the Syrian population is living. This clearly illustrates the politicized Western approach to the issue of humanitarian assistance.
When word painting (including in this meeting) their humanitarian efforts for Syria, the Western delegations steer clear of mentioning another hard-hitting aspect, which is their criminal unilateral sanctions that affect ordinary Syrians. These sanctions are the main factor influencing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. Basically, Western states knowingly aggravate the situation while hindering the normalization and discreding steps of the legitimate government.
In the same vein, they create artificial obstacles to the return of refugees from neighboring countries to Syria out of fear that in the event of a massive refugee return, the Syrian government may receive some political dividends. It is our firm conviction that such unscrupulous political games around Syria must stop. This is not only our position, but also the will of the Syrian people.
In other words, we stand for rendering humanitarian assistance to all Syrians without double standards and discrimination. This must be done in good faith, without politicizing or imposing unilateral suffocating restrictions that bring to naught any humanitarian assistance. We would very much like to hope that we will be able to resolve this seemingly obvious and straightforward task by July. We call on the colleagues to waste no time and give up the point about alleged irreplaceability of the CBM, which is only based on their unwillingness to shut down the mechanism.