General Assembly: 90th & 91st Meetings (AM & PM)

Note: A complete summary of today’s General Assembly meetings will be made available upon conclusion.

Opening remarks by the President of the General Assembly to come.


DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), noting that all cross-border operations will be carried out with the authorization of and in coordination with Syria’s Government, said: “This is a great achievement for all of us.” Recalling that, on 11 July, the Security Council was dealing with the conscious attempt of Moscow’s “Western opponents” to force it to use its veto right, he pointed out that Switzerland “monopolized the penholdership” of the resolution and rejected the demands of Syria. He said the United States and its allies advanced “an ultimatum” about extending the mechanism by 12 months, while later suggesting a compromise, while noting that Moscow’s “genuinely humanitarian wording” was removed from the draft.

Recalling that Syria remained the only country in the world in which a cross-border mechanism was operating with the authorization of the Council and not its Government, he said the Western countries have been interested in supplying assistance only to the “Idlib enclave”, controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – acknowledged by the Council as a terrorist group. Moreover, following the earthquake in February, the Government voluntarily opened Bab al-Salam and Al-Rai crossings, he said, underscoring that there are no barriers for humanitarian assistance in Syria anymore. Pointing to Moscow’s bilateral assistance to Damascus, he observed: “Russia has never wavered and will not waver in using its right of veto, not only to protect its own interests and the interests of its allies, but also the interests of all our partners in the United Nations.” He added: “Otherwise the Security Council is going to become a NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] get-together.”

NAME TO COME (Netherlands), also speaking for Belgium and Luxembourg and associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that, since the adoption of the veto initiative, the Russian Federation has used that power on four occasions. Pointing out that Moscow has chosen to ignore the call to renew the provisions of Security Council resolution 2672 (2023) for 12 months, he said it also “singlehandedly” blocked the nine-month compromise. “This is the eighteenth time since 2011 that the Russian Federation has used its veto against Syria-related resolutions,” he stressed, noting that Moscow has politicized humanitarian aid for Syria by employing conditionality of its own and the Syrian Government’s political objectives, including demands for sanctions relief and reconstruction in exchange for humanitarian access.

“The need for unimpeded humanitarian access is at the heart of our discussions today. Not the principle of sovereignty,” he underscored, while recognizing that cross-line operations are not enough to provide aid to north-west Syria at the necessary scale. Noting that the cross-border and the cross-line aid deliveries are “at the mercy of Syria’s Government”, he said that a United Nations presence in the affected territories and respective monitoring mechanisms are key. He observed, that, without a political solution, the conflict in Syria will not end, while reiterating that unless and until such a solution is “firmly under way”, the European Union will not finance any reconstruction, nor lift sanctions or normalize its relations with Syria.

MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), speaking also on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said it is appalling to observe a permanent member of the Security Council obstruct action that would provide critical humanitarian relief to people with immense needs. Noting Syria’s 13 July letter announcing the opening of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, he stressed that the United Nations must be able to communicate with all relevant State and non-State parties, as operationally necessary, to carry out safe and unimpeded humanitarian operations. He called on all parties to find a solution that will allow for sustained, predictable and unconditional humanitarian assistance in line with international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles. He also called on the Council to undertake every effort to find a solution that will enable cross-border assistance to continue without conditions and in line with the humanitarian principles.

Considering yet another veto in the Council, reform of the 15-member organ is necessary, he underscored, encouraging all Member States to support the French-Mexican initiative and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Code of Conduct. The Council does its work on behalf of all Member States and its decisions affect all of them, he said, encouraging the Organization’s wider membership to be ready to take decisive action in the Assembly that would allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected people. He voiced hope that the Assembly today sends a clear signal that life-saving humanitarian assistance must not be politicized and should never be made subject to a veto. “The legitimacy of this very Organization depends on it and most importantly, countless human lives depend on it,” he stressed.

SILVIO GONZATO, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, deplored the Russian Federation’s second veto on the renewal of Council resolution 2672 (2023), stating that his bloc will continue to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to north-west Syria through all the available modalities. Noting the Syrian regime’s 13 July decision to allow the United Nations and its agencies to cross through Bab al-Hawa for six months for aid delivery in north-west Syria, he underscored that the short-term, bilateral agreement does not provide sufficient predictability for humanitarian organizations to plan and deliver humanitarian assistance in a timely and efficient manner. He called for United Nations-coordinated cross-border delivery of humanitarian assistance to be urgently allowed, through the renewal of the Council resolution and the Syrian regime’s firm commitment not to politicize the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“The EU [European Union] will continue to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need in Syria, wherever they are,” he emphasized, noting that, following the earthquakes, the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism and the European Humanitarian Response Capacity facilitated the delivery of aid to all Syrians affected by the disaster. This included €1.3 million worth of the bloc’s own humanitarian relief stocks and €9 million worth of aid from 16 offering countries. He went on to underscore that no normalization, lifting of sanctions or reconstruction will be possible until the Syrian regime engages in a political transition, in the framework of Council resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva process. Further detailing his bloc’s financial support for Syria’s people, he called on the Council to undertake every effort to find a solution that will enable cross-border assistance to continue.

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