Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 20, 2019
I am sitting here before each of you in a state of shock. The consequences of the Russian Federation and China’s vetoes of this Security Council resolution will be disastrous. This decision is reckless, irresponsible and cruel.
Right now, in Syria, four million people depend on the UN’s cross-border assistance mechanism for medicine, shelter, and food. There is no justification imaginable for any member of this Security Council leaving vulnerable Syrian civilians with fewer means of securing vital aid. Following today’s decision, we must not lose sight on why the Syrian people need this cross-border mechanism in the first place. The foundation and undeniable fact of this matter is that Bashar Assad has chosen to starve his own people for years to force them to submit to his rule. Every day, Damascus fails to meet any government’s basic responsibilities to promote and protect the peace, prosperity, and health of its very own citizens. The regime’s choices – and the regime’s choices alone – are why the UN, humanitarian partners, and the UN Security Council had to act in 2014, and in every year since, to authorize the UN to utilize four crossings points in Syria for aid delivery to millions and millions in need.
The UN Security Council’s cross-border mechanism is truly one of the most important issues this Council oversees every year because of the immediate and direct impact. We can see with our own eyes that this mechanism saves untold Syrian lives every year. And every year since Resolution 2165’s adoption, we have put aside our political differences and voted – even with a few Russian abstentions – to renew this life-saving mechanism. Renewal of this Resolution has been a testament to our shared values and our collective commitment to millions of Syrians who rely on the UN’s life-sustaining humanitarian aid.
In providing for the sick and the hungry, we have all overcome our political differences to show the world that we are capable of doing the right thing. Unfortunately for the 14th time, the Russian Federation abandoned this commitment. And we need to be clear about the direct consequences of this decision. The lives of millions of innocent civilians – Syrian civilians – now hang in the balance at the height of the winter. Russia and China’s vote demonstrates a willingness to turn a blind eye to the brutal conditions the Assad regime continues to subject its own people to. And signals that Russia and China, while professing to support Resolution 2254, are openly facilitating the Regime’s pursuit of a military victory.