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Statement by Ambassador LIU Jieyi After Voting on the Security Council Draft Resolution on Syria

2017/02/28

Thanks to the joint efforts by the international community, the ceasefire in Syria has been generally preserved recently. A new round of Geneva peace talks is under way. A hard-won opportunity has emerged in terms of finding a political solution to the question of Syria. Under the current circumstances, the international community should remain committed to a political solution, consolidate the positive momentum through coordinated actions and encourage the parties in Syria to maintain the ceasefire and dialogue so as to find a way out that is acceptable to all the parties as soon as possible.

The Security Council’s action on the question of Syria should take into account the importance of maintaining the ceasefire, finding a political solution, working together to counter terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance. That should be in the interest of stabilizing the situation in Syria as soon as possible. Anyone truly who truly cares about safeguarding the fundamental interests of the people of Syria and the Middle East would do nothing that ran counter to that. Regardless of the rhetoric and no matter how elegant it might sound, anything that runs counter to the fundamental interests of the people of Syria and the region should not be allowed by the Council.

China’s position on the issue of chemical weapons is clear and consistent: we oppose the use of chemical weapons by any State, organization or individual under any circumstances, and call for punishing all instances of chemical weapons use. China has itself been a victim of the use of chemical weapons by other States. The Chinese people are more justified than any other party to express their opposition to the use of chemical weapons. China is deeply concerned about and strongly condemns the use of chemicals as weapons that has occurred within Syria.

With regard to the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, the Council has in the past achieved important results in terms of destroying Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. At present, investigations on the use of chemicals as weapons are ongoing, and it is therefore too early to reach a final conclusion. The Council should preserve its unity and continue to support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism so that it can carry out its investigations in a professional, objective and fair manner and in accordance with the mandate that was conferred to it by resolution 2319 (2016). Relevant conclusions must be based on accurate, detailed and solid evidence that can truly stand the test of history.

As we all recall, the purported existence of weapons of mass destruction was used in the past to unleash a war that has brought untold suffering to the people in the Middle East. Countries in the Middle East remain beset today by the legacy of that war. The lessons of history must be learned. Only in that way can mistakes be avoided in the future.

The draft resolution (S/2017/172), based on conclusions on which the members continue to have differences, was forced through to a vote, although Council members still had substantial divergences. That is in no way helpful to finding a solution to the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, and it is not conducive to the peace talks in Geneva and the political process on the question of Syria in general.

China has been working tirelessly to help bring about a solution to the issue of Syria, supports the United Nations as the major player in terms of good offices and has been facilitating finding a settlement among the parties that is acceptable to all through peaceful negotiations and based on the principle of a Syrian-owned and -led process. China will continue to play a constructive role in finding a political solution to this issue with a view to arriving at a comprehensive, fair and appropriate solution to the question of Syria.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that the Security Council is the core of our collective security regime. Every Council member bears the sacred responsibility of maintaining international peace and security and should define its national position in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and on the merits of the case under discussion. Unprovoked and intentionally distorted attacks against the solemn position of other members represent a very irresponsible and absurd action. In and of itself, that serves as a good example of how certain countries are using rhetoric as a means of last resort and with ulterior motives.

What all Council members should do is deeply reflect on the situation in Syria and the Middle East, on how it has been allowed to deteriorate to its current level, and on the role that each and everyone of us has played — and on whether that role is a glorious one or a shameful one. It is only by doing so that we can be regarded as acting responsibly with regard to the interests of the people of Syria and the region. Dealing with people solely through rhetorical flourishes is complete hypocrisy.

(Photo by LI Muzi, Xinhua News Agency)

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