Ministry Statements & Speeches:
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of New Zealand.
As our colleague from Senegal reminded us, it is only four days since my Prime Minister convened a meeting in this Chamber (see S/PV.774), at which leaders agreed upon several points. They agreed that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. They agreed on the urgent need to stop the fighting and to put our combined efforts behind ensuring the arrangement between the United States and Russia to restore the cessation of hostilities. They agreed that the Syrian people had suffered far too much and that full, unhindered humanitarian assistance for those in need was essential, and they agreed on the need to create the conditions for the resumption of political talks.
Our leaders did not agree on everything pretend there were any easy solutions, but they did agree, at least, on this much. It is therefore with utter dismay that we find ourselves back in this Chamber as Syrian planes, reportedly with Russian support, inflict carnage on eastern Aleppo. These actions, which reportedly include the use of incendiary and other indiscriminate weapons, are disturbing and demonstrate total disregard for their devastating impact on civilians. But what is most appalling is that these actions are shattering any remaining hopes we had for maintaining the cessation of hostilities and getting the peace processes back on track.
As my Prime Minister made clear in this Chamber a few days ago, words are not enough. All those who claim to support peace must back words with action. My delegation demands that the Syrian Government immediately ceases bombing of civilians and demonstrates genuine commitment to achieving a negotiated peace, and we appeal to all those genuinely committed to a political solution to do the same, especially those with the greatest influence on the Syrian Government.
I speak in particular to those whose political and material support is making the Syrian Government’s current actions possible. That support is undermining any remaining prospects for the peace process and it is destroying innocent lives under the guise of countering terrorism. The Syrian Government needs to ground its planes, hold back its armies, and honour its commitments under resolutions 2254 (2015) and 2268 (2016). New Zealand appeals to the Government of Russia and to Iran, too. If they are serious about peace, they should do everything in their power in the coming days to halt the fighting and give the United States-Russia arrangement a chance. We recognize that the opposition, too, has responsibilities.
All those with influence over the opposition must encourage it to respect the ceasefire and disassociate itself from terrorist groups. However, what the Syrian Government and its allies are doing is making that disassociation harder and prolonging the war. All those involved in Syria need to take a hard look at themselves and ask whether they intend to be genuine collaborators in the search for peace. So, we too join other Council members in putting our full support behind Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s request and calls on the Council — his call for the support, his call for the cessation of hostilities and putting protection of civilians as a priority, the 48-hour pauses and medical evacuations.
We admire Mr. De Mistura’s determination and his belief that the current course of events can be turned. For New Zealand’s part, we will do what we can to find a common cause in the Council for action to enforce the cessation of hostilities in Syria, as he has asked of us. A continuation of this conflict benefits no one, certainly not Syrian civilians.