Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

On Establishing by the UN Secretary-General of a “Board of Inquiry” for Northwest Syria

Unofficial translation


On 1 August, the Secretary-General of the United Nations announced the establishment of an “internal United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry to investigate a series of incidents that have occurred in northwest Syria since the signing of the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-escalation Area between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey on 17 September 2018”.

We are well aware that this provocative idea was actively promoted by the countries who are hostile to the legitimate authorities of Syria and to our efforts to eradicate terrorist threat in this country and ensure its territorial integrity and sovereignty. We have repeatedly stressed that the Syrian military, supported by the Russian Air-Space Forces, carry out solely retaliatory and limited action to eradicate terrorists and destroy their facilities. There is no doubt that attempts to cast a shadow over these efforts, discredit Damascus will be used to create new obstacles to the political settlement. 

We have noted that A.Guterres backed his decision by a reference to Article 97 of the UN Charter that reads: “The Secretariat shall comprise a Secretary-General and such staff as the Organization may require. The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. He shall be the chief administrative officer of the Organization.” It is absolutely not clear in what way this language may give authority to establish a “board of inquiry”. Besides, against the backdrop of incoming news regarding the demarche of a number of UN Security Council Members that demand to investigate the events in the Idlib de-escalation area, it would be wrong to lose sight of Article 100 of the UN Charter, according to which, in particular, “in the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority…”

Even if we put aside the legal drawbacks of this case, we would like to understand how the Secretariat plans to build the work of the “board of inquiry”. Will it operate remotely, taking into account that the Idlib de-escalation area is, as a matter of fact, predominantly controlled by terrorists? Or will it base its work on some sources that UN representatives find “reliable”, like the notorious “White Helmets” who feel at ease at the jihadist-controlled areas and whom both the Syrian Government and the Russian Reconciliation Center have time and again caught spreading staged and fake episodes in order to create provocations and escalate anti-Damascus sentiment? 

We are also eager to learn about plans of the Secretary-General of the United Nations about investigations of incidents related to deaths among peaceful population that resulted from the U.S. and its allies bombing Syrian cities Raqqa, Baghouz, Hajin, and the areas of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan.