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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Open VTC on Syria (Political and Humanitarian)

(From Chinese Mission to the United Nations)

2021/01/20

Mr. President,

I thank Special Envoy Mr. Pedersen and USG Mr. Lowcock for their briefings. China supports the Council in considering both the political and humanitarian issues of Syria in one meeting.

Since the outbreak of the crisis, ten years have passed, political solution of this issue at an early date and resumption of peace and tranquility in the country are the common wishes of the Syrian people, and the shared expectation of the international community. On this, I would like to make the following points.

First, firmly promoting the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process. The 5th session of the Constitutional Committee will convene in Geneva next week. China commends Special Envoy Pedersen for his good offices. We hope that Syrian parties could work under the framework of the Constitutional Committee and deepen dialogue to resolve differences, broaden consensus and promote substantial progress in relevant work. The Constitutional Committee's work must remain independent and free from outside interference. The international community should create favorable conditions for dialogues between the Syrian parties, and provide encouragement and guidance, instead of willfully putting pressure on one single side. The Syrian government has expressed repeatedly its support of Special Envoy Pedersen and its willingness to actively participate in the work of the Constitutional Committee. This should be acknowledged by the international community.

Second, stabilizing security situation in Syria. The current security threats for Syria are mainly from foreign occupation and terrorist activities. Only through addressing these two questions can a favorable security environment be created for the political process in Syria. Faced with foreign military and terrorist forces, the Syrian government has the right to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has the right to conduct anti-terrorism operations to defend its national security. Many Council members are concerned about terrorist activities inside Syria and the spillover risks. The international community should, in accordance with international law and Council resolutions, adopt uniform standards and support Syria in enhancing its counterterrorism efforts, and should not allow sustained presence of terrorist forces in the Idlib region.

Third, improving the economic and humanitarian situation. Over the past few months, the prices of fuel and bread in Syria have skyrocketed, and the value of Syrian pounds dropped. Its people don't have enough fuel in the cold winter, and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases keeps increasing. The dire humanitarian situation in Syria warrants high level attention and focus. The Syrian government, shouldering its responsibility, is actively taking actions to promote economic recovery, improve livelihood and control the pandemic. The international community should assist the country and make an effort to ease the humanitarian crisis on the ground. China has used bilateral and multilateral channels to provide assistance to Syria worth around 130 million US dollars, and we are ready to continue to help and support the Syrian people. Relevant UN departments and agencies should take active measures to address the humanitarian situation in Syria, improve their cooperation with the Syrian government and relevant parties, and enhance the effectiveness of their humanitarian operations.

Fourth, removing unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) against Syria at an early date. It must be pointed out that the economic and humanitarian difficulties in Syria, to a large extent, are the results of economic blockade and other UCMs. These UCMs severely undermine its economic base and hinder Syrian people's access to medical supplies and services. In the virtual Arria Formula meeting on UCMs last November, the Secretary General of the Syrian Red Crescent gave a detailed briefing on the negative impacts of UCMs on the humanitarian situation in the country and the difficulties in the actual implementation of the humanitarian exemptions mechanism. The Special Rapporteur on the negative impacts of UCMs on human rights of the Human Rights Council recently stated very clearly that UCMs hamper the rebuilding of infrastructure such as hospitals in Syria, and undermine its people's rights to survival and development, including their rights to housing and medical care, thus worsening the humanitarian situation. She urged the country concerned to remove the sanctions. We hope that relevant country could respect the facts and heed the voices carefully.

China would like to reiterate that diplomacy that relies on sanctions will get us nowhere and will only lead to endless sufferings for the people of target countries. We urge the country concerned to respond to the appeal of Secretary-General Guterres, listen to the strong voices of the international community and immediately remove its UCMs against Syria.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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