Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Zhang Jun on the UN Security Council Draft Resolutions Extending the Mandate of Cross-border Humanitarian Deliveries to Syria

Must read

July 11, 2023

Madam President,

The Council has just voted on the draft resolutions on the renewal of the mandate for cross-border humanitarian assistance into Syria, and neither of them was adopted. China regrets the failure of the Council to reach consensus on this important matter.

China’s position on the humanitarian issue in Syria has been consistent and clear. We have all along maintained that humanitarian assistance to Syria should be provided in a way that respects the sovereignty of Syria and the Syrian Government’s ownership. Cross-line relief should become the primary modality for humanitarian assistance to Syria. The cross-border relief mechanism was a temporary arrangement made under specific circumstances, and there is a need to speed up the transition to cross-line assistance and to phase out the cross-border mechanism over time until its eventual destination.

Over the past few years, every time this council addressed this matter, the discussions were invariably very heated and the debate fraught with difficulties and twists and turns. Since July last year, the Council has in effect come to a regularized arrangement whereby this issue is reviewed every six months, which provides the Council with the needed flexibility to assess the implementation of the resolution in a timely manner and to properly adjust and optimize the mandate. We are informed by reality that the length of the mandate extension is not the main obstacle to humanitarian assistance to Syria, nor should it be the main obstacle to consensus among Council members.

In dealing with the matter of mandate renewal in this round, in view of the current humanitarian situation in Syria, China is supportive of continuing to keep the cross-border arrangement. China maintains in the same breath that the Council must take seriously the problems and inadequacies of the existing humanitarian relief mechanism and make efforts to address these problems and inadequacies. First, practical measures should be taken to prevent the parties in de-facto control of northwestern Syria from once again obstructing cross-line relief efforts and to ensure that the frequency and scale of cross-line relief efforts are significantly higher than at the same time last year. Second, the scope of humanitarian activities should be further expanded. Humanitarian de-mining should be integrated into early recovery, while the Syrian population should be supported in key areas to achieve sustainable development, so as to lock in and build on the gains of early recovery. Third, adequate humanitarian funding for Syria is also an important measure of how well the resolution is implemented. Fourth, we must face squarely the negative impact of unilateral sanctions on humanitarian assistance and take practical measures to eliminate such negative effects. Generally speaking, any actions taken by the Security Council should be conducive to easing the situation in the Middle East, and to promoting political reconciliation between Syria and the countries concerned, rather than creating new tensions and new difficulties.

For sometime now, Brazil and Switzerland, as co-penholders, did a great deal of work. China, the UAE, Mozambique, and other African members also made positive efforts towards resolving the issues at hand. However, positions within the Council were sharply divided, and in particular, consensus failed to materialize over such issues as unilateral sanctions. As a result, the Council was unable to make meaningful decisions on a comprehensive and effective solution to those issues. Dialogue and consultation is the ultimate way to resolve differences and forge consensus. In order to extricate this Council from the current predicament, we call on all parties to be rational and pragmatic, to demonstrate the political will needed, to abandon double standards and the politicization of humanitarian issues, to continue to consult patiently, and to search for the greatest common factor that can accommodate each other’s concerns.

Thank you, Madam President.

More articles

Latest article