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Security Council – Briefing on Syria

Statement delivered by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council briefing on Syria —

Thank you Madam President.

Firstly let me thank the High Representative Kim Won-soo for your briefing, and appreciation for your leadership in navigating difficult and crucial issues for international security architecture.

Madam President,
Italy is shocked by the alleged chemical weapons attack perpetrated in Syria and by additional bombardments on hospitals where the wounded were being treated. What happened in Khan Seikhun is sickening and despicable. We condemn it in the strongest terms, just like we condemn the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. Carrying out such attacks not only confirms an utter contempt of the Syrian regime for its own population, it’s also a tragic reminder that international law, including this Council’s resolutions, as well as the international non-proliferation architecture, continue to be blatantly violated. We welcome the commitment by the OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission to gather information from all available sources and we look forward to its findings. In this framework, we support the draft resolution tabled by UK, US and France aimed at condemning the attack and ensuring the investigations are as effective as possible.

Madam President,

as long as nobody is held accountable for these war crimes and crimes against humanity, the incentive will remain to continue carrying them out. This is why fighting impunity, identifying the perpetrators and holding them accountable must be a shared priority for this Council; one that unify us, not divide us. Italy had encouraged action by this Council to ensure accountability and sanctions against those responsible, following up on the JIM activities. After the pathway in the SC was blocked, Italy has backed on March 20 new restrictive measures by the EU against four high-ranking Syrian military officials for their role in the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. Italy also supports the Mechanism set up by the GA to gather evidence and assist future prosecutions of crimes committed in Syria. Moreover, as subscribers of the code of conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, and of the French-Mexican initiative on veto restraint in case of mass atrocities, we reiterate again the call for this Council to act. These crimes should also, in our view, warrant the attention of the International Criminal Court.

Indiscriminate violence against civilians continues to be considered a tool to win this war militarily. Such an approach is not only morally unacceptable; it’s also both wrong and delusional. A solution will never be found through military means, however appealing that might seem to one of the parties right now. The only way out of the crisis is through an inclusive political solution, in accordance with UNSCR 2254, that addresses the aspirations of the Syrian people and drains the quagmire of violence and instability where terrorism flourishes. Furthermore, it is to be underlined that the attacks have been cynically perpetrated at the end of a round of talks in Geneva that tried – under the leadership of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura whom we support – to inject new life into the political process, and they cast serious new doubts on the commitment to a political solution.

Madam President,

these attacks also cast new doubts on the regime’s willingness to abide by terms of the ceasefire. Unfortunately they do not represent an isolated case. They are only one of the repeated violations of the ceasefire that have been carried out particularly by the regime, over the past few months. This behavior destroys any confidence between the parties on the ground just like the deliberate restrictions in the provision of aid that continue to worsen the already tragic humanitarian situation. A strengthened cessation of hostilities is our best hope to move away from the military phase of this crisis and to ensure safe and complete humanitarian access. In this respect, and concluding, we all have, and particularly the co-guarantors of the Astana process, a special responsibility to live up to our commitments and ensure the full implementation of the ceasefire as a basis for a concrete peace process.