UN Security Council: The Situation in the Middle East

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

  • Peace, Rights and Security
New Zealand statement delivered by H.E. Carolyn Schwalger, Chargé d’Affaires a.i, 25 September 2016

As the Senegalese Ambassador has rightfully reminded us, just four days ago, the New Zealand Prime Minister chaired a meeting in this Chamber at which leaders agreed 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 US-Russia arrangement to restore the cessation of hostilities holds.

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. Nor did they pretend that there were any easy solutions. But they did at least agree 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, reportedly including 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 process 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 cease its bombing of civilians and demonstrate genuine commitment to achieving a negotiated peace.

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.

Your 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 Council resolutions 2254 and 2268.

New Zealand appeals to the Governments of Russia and Iran: if you are serious about peace, do everything in your power in the coming days to halt the fighting and give the US-Russia arrangement a chance.

We recognise 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 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.

We do join other Council members in putting our full support behind Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura's calls to the Council to support the cessation of hostilities and protect civilians and infrastructure as a priority, for weekly 48-hour pauses in the fighting and for medical evacuations from eastern Aleppo. We admire Special Envoy de Mistura’s determination that the current course of events can be turned.

For New Zealand's part, we will continue to do what we can to help this Council find a common course of action.

The continuation of this conflict benefits no one. Certainly not Syrian civilians.


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