Security Council Arria Formula Meeting: Implementing the Cessation of Hostilities: Syria’s Opposition Speaks

Statement by Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 12 March 2018

Thank you very much.

I like to start by thanking our guests for their briefings, both through videolink directly from Eastern Ghouta but also here at the table.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was already horrified when you read the articles in the newspaper, when you read the reports and when you see the pictures from Eastern Ghouta. But hearing your stories, that speaks to us even more.

Hundreds of innocent civilians have died since the start of the offensive on February 18th. Our determination to resolve this crisis has only been strengthened by the voices we heard today:

  • The voice of Mr. Al-Bahra, who’s goal for a genuine political transition in line with Security Council Resolution 2254 we fully support. And also his call to focus on the underlying causes.
  • The voice of Mr. Tarakji who has given us a real life description of the medical and overall humanitarian needs that are immense and where our collective contributions are needed.
  • The voice of Mr. Alkatlaby, a Syrian Dutch representative who put the spotlight on one of my countries biggest priorities: The need for accountability. Let’s not forget: there can’t be real peace without justice.
  • And the voice from Eastern Ghouta, from the people of Syria who are victim of the crisis for which we bear collective responsibility.

And I also like to acknowledge the presence of Mrs. Ojyli, as participation of women in a peace process should be real in order to assure sustainable peace.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands calls upon all parties to abide by UN Security Council resolution 2401.

Arria formula meetings are designed to give the widest variety of voices from the ground a podium on the world stage that the UN represents. We want to make sure that the members of the Security Council do not only hear what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. These type of meetings are designed to have an interactive dialogue.

I will therefore not repeat the statement that the Kingdom of the Netherlands made this morning in the Security Council meeting with the Secretary-General. The focus of this morning’s intervention was on the delivery of humanitarian aid, monitoring of the cessation of the hostilities and the credibility of the Security Council itself and accountability. And if you want to read the full text, you can find it on our website.

In these dire circumstances, the Kingdom of the Netherlands commends the Syrian National Commission (SNC) for the unity that it manages to maintain.

The Syrian opposition, like any opposition anywhere else in the world, unites groups of diverging interests and goals but has managed to come together. This unity is a necessary condition for any effective and inclusive political solution.

In year 7 of the conflict, and with so many Syrians who have been forced to leave their country, it is of critical importance that the SNC maintains a strong connection to those who remain.

The strength of your position depends in large part on your ability to be representative of Syrians in- and outside of the country.

And if you will allow, I have one question for the speakers today:

Later this week the Security Council will meet again to discuss the political track of the Syrian file. And we would welcome any suggestions on how to unlock the political process, taking place in Geneva.

Thank you very much.  

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