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General Assembly – Secretary-General briefing on Syria

Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative and Charge’ d’Affaires a.i. of Italy to the United Nations, at the informal meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly for the briefing by the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Syria. —


Thank you, Mr. President.

I wish to add a few national remarks to the statement delivered by the European Union, which I align with.

As highlighted by the Secretary General, whom we thank for the briefing, the Syrian people have been enduring one of the most brutal conflicts of our time. They have suffered an immense loss of lives, systematic violations of human rights, vast destruction of livelihoods and infrastructures, the forced displacement of millions of civilians and over the last year, also the impact of COVID-19.

Now more than ever, the Syrian people need to feel that the international community continues to stand by their side – notwithstanding all the huge difficulties on the ground and at the negotiating table.

One major point is to ensure unhindered humanitarian access. To this end it is pivotal to achieve, as a minimum, the extension of the authorization of the cross border mechanism. We fully support the call made by many speakers in that regard. Another key point is ensuring accountability. This is not only a moral imperative, it is also a deterrent of future violations and a fundamental element of any reconciliation process.

In this regard we reiterate our full support to the existing mechanisms to fight impunity, including the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Investigation and Identification Team and the Commission of Inquiry.

On the political process it is important to reaffirm that the only way out from the Syrian crisis is a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political solution facilitated by the UN and in line with UN Resolution 2254. A credible political process well on track is also a necessary condition for the international community to engage in reconstruction.

We strongly support the UN Special Envoy for Syria and his efforts to advance all aspects of resolution 2254, including future free and fair elections open to the diaspora. The Presidential elections to be held next summer will not fulfil these criteria and thus they cannot lead to any international normalization with the Syrian regime.

Going back to the humanitarian dimension, yesterday and today, Italy participated in the Fifth EU-UN Brussels Conference and confirmed its support for humanitarian and stabilization projects in Syria and in the neighbouring countries in line with its prior commitments. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced a contribution of 45 million euro in grants.

We will continue to support civil society and international organizations in providing the Syrian people life-saving assistance, protection, humanitarian rehabilitation and early recovery. We will continue listening to the voice and expectations of the most vulnerable, in particular the young generations.

We also confirm our support to the neighbouring countries, which we commend for the extraordinary spirit of solidarity and for the efforts undertaken to host Syrian refugees.

I thank you Mr. President.