Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
March 18, 2021
Thank you to the Coalition for hosting this event in commemoration of the 10th anniversary when the Syrian people peacefully took to the streets, and thank you Rafif, for moderating today’s panel. The United States is proud to co-sponsor today’s event.
I would also like to thank all the panelists for their powerful comments and for shining a light on the activism and resilience of Syrians living through the conflict. Your comments today are evidence of a real determination by the Syrian people to engage in a peaceful and democratic political transition, despite all obstacles, that would pave way for the resolution of the conflict.
It is certainly disheartening that 10 years into the conflict, Syrians endure the unimaginable, same tragedies: indiscriminate attacks on civilians, arbitrary detention, forced displacement, and an unrelenting humanitarian crisis. We cannot become numb to this suffering.
We remain firm in stating that the only way forward is to push for a political process that meets the conditions outlined in Security Council Resolution 2254. We recognize the Syrian Negotiation Commission’s efforts to meaningfully participate in the constitutional drafting process. However, our ability to make progress on this front is limited by the Assad regime’s continuous refusal to engage in good faith.
It’s clear that the regime will leverage the upcoming presidential elections in May to unfairly claim Assad’s legitimacy. The United States will not recognize these elections unless they are free, fair, representative of Syrian society, and supervised by the United Nations.
In the absence of serious and meaningful cooperation by the regime and its allies, the United States continues to support the efforts of the Special Envoy on other pressing files, including the release of detainees and the status of missing persons. In the Security Council a few days ago, we called on the Special Envoy to apply greater focus on detainees, and to engage directly and more regularly with families of the detained, former detainees themselves, and civil society.
And while we press for progress on the political track, we cannot neglect the critical need to provide humanitarian relief to Syrians unable to feed, clothe, or acquire medical care for themselves and their families. Since 2012, the United States has provided more than $12.2 billion in life-saving assistance to vulnerable Syrians in Syria and the region.
But we must do more – we have to do more. In the Security Council, we have continued our campaign to retain and expand the UN’s cross-border mechanism. The United States is committed to do what is right to sustain the lifeline for the 3.4 million Syrians in the northwest and to reinstate the UN’s humanitarian access in the northeast.
To conclude, I echo the Secretary-General when I say that a credible political settlement cannot wait. I assure you that our steadfast support for the Syrian people will not end. That a decade has passed means we must redouble our efforts to encourage a credible political transition, to hold the regime accountable for its abuses, and to maximize our delivery of humanitarian aid.
Thank you, very much.