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Syria resolution: statements opposing by Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, North Korea…

Posted by seumasach on August 4, 2012

The following countries voted against:  Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

United Nations

3rd August, 2012

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela) said that the draft resolution was an intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign and independent State.  It proposed the establishment of protection mechanism against a sovereign country.  The draft lacked objectivity.  It described a long list of trivial human rights violations attributed to the Syrian Government, but minimized or concealed the human rights crimes committed by terrorist groups and the armed opposition.  It ignored the political and constitutional reforms promoted by the Syrian Government, aimed at reaching an inclusive, democratic and peaceful national agreement.  Every sovereign State had the right to defend its national sovereignty and to protect public and private property.  That right must not be denied or infringed upon.

He said the Syrian Government did not face a democratic opposition that used peaceful and constitutional means for achieving its purposes.  Instead, it was an opposition that practiced or supported terrorism and which survived, owing to foreign support.  That armed opposition refused to participate in a democratic and pluralistic dialogue.  The only viable option to end the armed violence in Syria was through a sincere and inclusive political dialogue.  Venezuela supported the position taken by the Russian Federation, China and other countries that defended the principles of sovereignty, self-determination and territorial integrity, which were enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  It was commendable that they opposed foreign intervention and that they advocated a Syrian-led solution.

Speaking next, the representative of Cuba said his delegation would vote against the draft because it would only lead to increased instability and violence.  The text was biased and could even pave the way for foreign intervention, “something for which we have baleful memories in the recent past”.  The text was an example of the prevailing view of Washington and other NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) capitals.  That view was being promulgated by the media in those capitals, whose reckless and one-sided reporting was only adding to the problem.  The true aim of the draft was not to assist the Syrian people towards a political solution; it was politically motivated and must be recognized as such.

The representative of South Africa said that his delegation deplored the violence and loss of life in Syria, “which is fast spiralling out of control”.  The actions by both sides, especially the use of heavy weapons, were shocking and should be deplored by all.  South Africa appreciated the support of regional actors, the United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to address the humanitarian situation.  He reminded the Assembly that IFRC had recently classified the situation as a “civil war”.  All sides had obligations under international law.  There could be no military solution, and, ultimately, the parties in Syria would have to negotiate a settlement.  The only question was whether they did so now or after a protracted and bloody civil war.

That was why, he said, his country had been disappointed that the Security Council had been unable to apply pressure on both sides to seek a peaceful political solution.  He supported the Assembly’s decision to adopt a text, but the current one should have been more balanced.  Indeed, an unbalanced text could be viewed as the Assembly’s expressed support for one side over the other.  The resolution should call strongly on the opposition to pursue a political solution and cease all violence.  Despite its misgivings on some aspects of the text, South Africa believed it was necessary for the United Nations to take action.

Bolivia’s representative said that his delegation would vote against the resolution.  The people of Syria were “trapped between two sides”, and the United Nations was duty-bound to help deal with the painful humanitarian crisis.  It was no longer a regional matter.  Yet, while the United Nations must act, such action had limits under its Charter.  Indeed, Charter principles proscribed intervention in the territorial integrity of States.  The resolution, if adopted, would not contribute to a solution; on the contrary, it would make matters worse.

Indeed, the aim of the text was not to assist the Syrian population, but to “defeat Damascus”.  “Anybody who doesn’t believe that needs only read it,” he said, explaining that, on at least on 14 occasions, it condemned the Syrian authorities of the worst international crimes, while making only a passing mention of the opposition’s action.  Neither did the draft mention the activities of outside terrorists and other armed groups working to destabilize Syria.  And while it set out a very detailed description of what type of democratic Government the people of Syria should strive to achieve, it did not recall what had happened in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.  He regretted that the draft had been rushed “hurriedly” to the Assembly after the Security Council had failed to act and after only the briefest of consultations among the Organization’s wider membership.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stressed the very negative impact the situation in Syria was having in the Middle East region and he expressed his deepest concern over it.  The Syria issue must be addressed evenly and peacefully, and sovereignty must be fully respected, in line with the Charter.  Syria was a full-fledged United Nations Member State.  The Syrian Government and been democratically elected, and the principle of non-interference should be respected.  The impact of interference in State affairs in many instances had been disastrous.  If one shifted the focus from Syria to neighbouring countries, one could see that military interference had led to violence and the killing of innocent civilians.  That was evident in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The United States talked a lot about protection of civilians, but one must look at what that country was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The United States only wanted regime change in Syria.

He said the conflict could only be resolved through political dialogue and peaceful means.  Only the Syrian people knew what was in their best interests.  Outside interference could not resolve the problem.  It was hypocritical for the United States to talk about protection of civilians.

CAMILLO GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said that the small but vibrant Syrian and Lebanese community within his country was also directly and often personally affected by the spiralling violence and atrocities in Syria, particularly as the war had moved to the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo.  Today’s resolution had many positive elements, which his country enthusiastically supported.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines shared the resolution’s concern for the civilian victims of the war, particularly the innocent women and children who had been killed or victimized by the warring parties.  However, other aspects of the resolution gave his country pause and made it question whether a laudable desire to speak and act on that matter had caused the international community to overlook many of the indisputable facts on the ground, as well as many of the principles that undergird the Organization.

He said Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was primarily concerned about the obvious omissions from the text, which were not only unbalanced, but, in a far more troubling implication than silence, suggested consent or endorsement of certain actions and actors.  It was a documented fact, for example, that elements of the opposition forces had assassinated members of the Syrian Government, either individually or through the use of crude bombs, which also murdered innocent civilians.  Surely, the international community could not catalogue the violations of the Syrian authorities while turning a blind eye to the type of despicable terrorism, which it condemned in every other context and nation.  The international community was also aware of the indisputable presence and activity of Al-Qaida and other extremists in Syria and their role in some anti-Government activity.

The representative of Iran said the text ran contrary to all global efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict and it violated the Charter principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States.  It was a malicious desire of certain countries to topple the Syrian regime.  Only the Syrian people should decide their fate.  Military intervention by outside forces and weapons and communications equipment sent to the rebels exacerbated the situation and deepened the insecurity and political crisis, with negative consequences for the entire region.  In recent months, the attacks had become more deadly, and in the past few days, armed attacks in Aleppo had led to many deaths.  Yet, the draft failed to hold to account armed groups led by Al-Qaida, and it failed to condemn acts of terrorism.  It was clear who was behind arming the rebels.  Regrettably, some of those were sponsors of the draft, which imposed sanctions on Syria while people were in dire need of basic aid.  That was “collective punishment”.

He said he regretted Mr. Annan’s resignation.  After the recent meeting of the Security Council, some of its permanent members had rushed to announce that the Special Envoy’s mission was dead and that they would pursue their own direct action to address the conflict.  Such an approach was blatant interference in Syria’s internal affairs.  He expressed hope that Mr. Annan’s replacement would act along the same lines as Mr. Annan.  He was meanwhile concerned about the regional consequences of the conflict.  He encouraged political parties to engage in political dialogue with the Syrian Government, and he reiterated Iran’s readiness to hold talks between the Syrian Government and opposition parties.  Syria had historically played an essential role in the Middle East.  Everyone must work together in a practical way to end the conflict.  The text was unbalanced, one-sided and it did not reflect reality.  Therefore, Iran would vote against it.

The representative of the Russian Federation regretted the adoption of the text, which only exacerbated confrontation and the search for a peaceful way to resolve the crisis.  Behind the façade of international rhetoric, it hid support for the Syrian opposition.  It was not a coincidence that the countries supporting the opposition were the most active sponsors of the resolution.  The document included statements about the inability of the Syrian Government to react to the crisis.  That was not true.  Council members should work hand-in-hand and not go outside the Council to find solutions.  Today’s resolution was harmful since it undermined the chances for a Syrian-led process to settle the conflict.
He deeply regretted Mr. Annan’s decision to resign and hoped for the appointment of a successor.  The important thing at present was to prevent the slackening of international efforts.  Members of the Action Group should require strict implementation by all parties and send a clear signal to end the violence.  It was particularly crucial to maintain a United Nations presence in the country, and UNSMIS was the only independent source of objective information there.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania expressed sympathy to Syria and to the Syrian people for the deaths of innocent people in the conflict there.  He said his country recognized the magnitude of the situation and had abstained from the vote because it believed that the matter had been misdiagnosed, according to the United Nations Charter.  The country’s vote was not an acceptance of the impunity there, including the violations perpetrated.  However, his country adhered to the principle of non-discrimination and was concerned that the principle of non-interference had not been applied in the crisis.  Additionally, the resolution had not recognized the role of external forces in the crisis, and that omission was a major obstacle to achieving a meaningful and peaceful solution.  His country would continue to abide by the African Union’s constitutive act with regard to unconstitutional changes of government.

 

The representative of China said that despite several amendments to the draft resolution, it had remained largely unchanged.  China urged all parties to the conflict to cease violence.  The imposition of sanctions on one party had not helped to improve the situation.  The only viable approach to resolving the crisis was to seek a just and peaceful solution, as military efforts would only lead to more bloodshed.   China regretted the resignation Kofi Annan.  It had supported his mediation efforts and appreciated the constructive role he had played.  The international community should continue to support the action group and the Annan plan.  The solution to the crisis should be determined by the Syrian people themselves and should be accepted by all Syrians.   China opposed any act aimed at forcing a regime change.  The Security Council had been considering the Syrian crisis and its authority should be upheld.  China believed in the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference.  Its actions were not targeted at any particular issue or at any particular time.  China was ready for concerted effort to uphold the general direction of seeking a peaceful settlement to the Syrian crisis.   China’s vote today had been cast in accordance with the country’s stance.

 

The representative of Syria said that while he regretted the Assembly’s adoption of the extremely unbalanced and biased resolution, he thanked all countries that had voted against it.  The text promoted chaos.  Syria’s Government and people expected the United Nations to help Syria confront a culture of extremism or terrorism, whether in Israel or sponsored by Al-Qaida or fundamental groups.  The only way to resolve the conflict was through an inclusive national dialogue in line with the six-point plan.  The Syrian Government had committed to cease violence and it had withdrawn heavy weapons since 12 April, in accordance with that plan.  But armed groups had not lived up to their commitments.  On the contrary, they had bolstered their supply of weapons, used their people as human shields, bombed electric power stations, attacked police stations, and burned hospitals and clinics.  Successive meetings of the Council and Assembly aimed to provide political cover for armed groups acting against Syria.

 

He said that some parties were trying to destroy the dignity of some parts of the Syrian population and were encouraging them to go to refugee camps with promises that were never kept.  Some of those camps had been converted into military centres, where civilians were trained to fight.  The establishment of a National Reconciliation Ministry was a testament to the Syrian Government’s genuine desire to find a peaceful resolution.  It was strange that the European Union had imposed sanctions on the Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation only a few days after he had assumed office.  Foreign intervention in Syrian affairs had turned Syrian civilians into armed rebels.

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