Security Council Briefing: Syria

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

New York, 19 November 2018

Thank you, Mr. President.

First let me thank Special Envoy De Mistura for his clear and comprehensive briefing. Mr. De Mistura, we very much appreciate your unwavering commitment in the remainder of your term in office.

I would like to focus on the following 3 points today:

  • The urgent need to convene the Constitutional Committee;
  • Our concern about the increased shelling in Idlib and the continued need for sustained de-escalation in Idlib and north Syria;
  • Future outlook.

1. The Constitutional Committee

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the Istanbul Summit Communique of October 27. The Constitutional Committee should convene as soon as possible, before the end of the year, and move ahead with the creation of a new constitution.

The invitations to the 150 committee members should be send out as soon as possible. It is the prerogative of the UN to do so. Staffan de Mistura has been given a clear mandate by this Council through Security Council Resolution 2254 and through the Sochi outcome document. Now is the time to deliver.

All parties, particularly the Syrian authorities, should cooperate constructively with the UN to prevent further delays in the political process. And those with leverage bear a specific responsibility in this regard. 

The committee is not a goal in itself, it is and should remain part of the broader UN-led political process based on Security Council Resolution 2254.

One can only speak of a credible political process when the Constitutional Committee itself is credible. The convening role of the UN ensures this. No one should be able to hold the convening of the Constitutional Committee hostage.

Inclusiveness and representation of all Syrians is key. The Committee itself and any sub-comittees that will be created, should at a minimum include 30 percent women.

2. Idlib

Mr. President, that brings me to my second point, our concern about the increased shelling in Idlib and the continued need for sustained de-escalation in Idlib and north Syria.

The increased shelling that we have seen over the last couple of weeks there is reason for concern. It is of key importance that the agreement on Idlib between the Russian Federation and Turkey holds and that it is implemented by the parties through continued cooperation. The alternative to sustained de-escalation is a devastating humanitarian catastrophe.

Let me also stress the importance of stability in Northeast Syria and continued progress in the joint fight against ISIS. Military actions in that area should stay sharply focused on addressing the threat of ISIS.

3. Future outlook

Mr. President, that brings me to my third and final point: the future outlook. Syria currently is not ready for safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees. Voluntary return can only be facilitated when the internationally agreed protection thresholds are in place.

It is essential security and property rights guarantees are established for refugees and internally-displaced persons seeking to return.

In this regard we are deeply concerned about Law 10 that apparently has been reincarnated into Law 42. We support the UN in its call to suspend this Law.

Mr. President, we need accountability for all the grave human rights violations and atrocity crimes in Syria and bring those responsible to justice.

The Conference of States Parties (CSP) of the OPCW is currently ongoing in The Hague. It is crucial that we achieve attribution for chemical weapons use as a step towards accountability.

Let me stress once again in this regard our support to the IIIM. A referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court remains the best path forward to fight impunity.


In closing, Mr. President, we strongly disagree with the premature calls for reconstruction aid.

We reiterate that the EU will be ready to assist in the reconstruction of Syria only when a comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition is firmly under way.

Thank you, Mr. President.