13 Oct 2016

NZ pushes to break UN deadlock on Syria

6:37 pm on 13 October 2016

New Zealand is working on getting enough agreement around the UN Security Council to present a resolution on Syria, saying the fact there has yet to be a response is deplorable.

Syrian boys cry following Russian air strikes on the rebel-held Fardous neighbourhood of the northern embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.

Syrian boys cry following Russian air strikes on the rebel-held Fardous neighbourhood of Aleppo. Photo: AFP

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said it was a "sad spectacle" with both a Russian resolution and a France/Spain resolution voted down in the council at the weekend.

New Zealand has circulated what Mr McCully referred to as an initial 'Elements Paper', aimed at finding common ground based on those resolutions, but that was not successful.

He described that paper as "an attempt to broker both resolutions into a centre ground space which might make them acceptable to the mainstream of the council, to get something through".

But Mr McCully said now the council was left with nothing, and New Zealand would continue its efforts "not to get something perfect", but better than the vacuum that now existed.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

But he said New Zealand and its New York based UN staff were working hard with other members of the council, to gauge what aspects of a resolution might be broadly acceptable.

"Of course we don't want to have a third failed resolution.

"And so the Elements Paper is being discussed with the missions in New York and they in turn have to talk to their capitals to see what elements of it are acceptable and which aren't, and we're hoping that those discussions will see something emerge as a resolution that might be before the council sometime in the coming days."

But he said given the "spectacular failures" over the weekend, New Zealand did not want to be seen as getting ahead of itself and be responsible for a "third spectacular failure", with New Zealand's name attached to it.

Mr McCully said as all of this was going on, the situation on the ground in Syria could hardly be worse.

"And the fact that there's been no council response to it deplorable.

"We have a responsibility as a council member to find an acceptable council resolution if that is possible - but the fact this has not been achieved so far tells you just how difficult that can be."

Smoke rises after a residential area in the Darat Izza neighbourhood of Aleppo was bombed, apparently by Russia.

Smoke rises after a residential area in the Darat Izza neighbourhood of Aleppo was bombed, apparently by Russia. Photo: AFP

The text of a draft resolution circulated by New Zealand officials in the past few days:


The Security Council

Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2191 (2014) 2209 (2015), 2254 (2015) 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016),

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Noting discussions in September between the Russian Federation and the United States on Syria and deeply concerned at the breakdown of the agreed pause in hostilities and series of steps to reduce violence, enable unimpeded humanitarian access and set the conditions for the resumption of a Syrian-led political process,

Distressed that, as a result of this breakdown, there has been a sharp increase in the level of conflict in Syria, accompanied by an intensification of the devastating humanitarian situation, renewed impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance and intensified attacks against civilians and civilian objects contrary to international humanitarian law,

Distressed also that the resumption of conflict has seen an intensification of attacks against medical facilities contrary to international humanitarian law and to its resolution 2286,

Convinced that, in these circumstances it is incumbent on the Security Council to act;

Recognising the importance of the continuation of armed action against terrorist entities in Syria designated as such by virtue of Security Council resolutions,

Determining that the situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region,

Underscoring that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council's decisions,

1. Demands an immediate and complete end to all attacks which may result in the death or injury of civilians or damage to civilian objects in Syria, in particular those carried out by air in Aleppo;

2. Demands also the immediate commencement of steps towards the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2268 and the Cessation of Hostilities outlined in it;

3. Demands that all parties allow and facilitate immediate, unimpeded and sustained access to besieged and hard to reach areas throughout Syria for humanitarian relief on the basis of needs determined by the United Nations;

4. Calls upon all parties to adhere, within 24 hours of the adoption of this resolution, to a 48 hour pause to the fighting and to regular 48 hour pauses thereafter until full implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities required under resolution 2268 is achieved, so as to allow the UN to provide humanitarian assistance to all those in need and reinforces that this obligation is in addition to the requirements under Security Council Resolution 2268;

5. Calls also on the United Nations to work with relevant parties to agree operational modalities for the pauses described in Paragraph 4 of this resolution and to ensure the necessary security guarantees for humanitarian assistance;

6. Calls upon the parties to the conflict to conclude as expeditiously as possible local agreements for the evacuation of wounded and sick, the elderly, children and maternity cases from besieged and hard to reach areas based solely on urgency and need and requests the United Nations to facilitate such agreements as appropriate;

7. Demands that all combatants not designated as terrorist entities by virtue of Security Council resolutions take steps to separate expeditiously from combatants designated as terrorist entities by virtue of Security Council resolutions while in this regard emphasising that efforts to counter terrorism must be carried out in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law, and in particular with regard to the protection of civilians;

8. Notes the initiative of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Syria of 6 October 2016 on addressing the situation in Aleppo and requests the Secretary-General to present to the Security Council within two weeks a detailed plan for its implementation for the purpose of the endorsement by the Security Council;

9. Reiterates that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and in this regard supports the intention of the Secretary-General, through his good offices and the efforts of his Special Envoy for Syria, to convene formal negotiations as soon as possible;

10. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

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