Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Syria

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 26, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Envoy de Mistura, for your briefing.

The United States, along with all other members of the Small Group, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, and other likeminded UN Security Council partners are united in our position that the UN should move swiftly to convene the constitutional committee.

We continue to strongly support Special Envoy de Mistura’s efforts toward the formation of that committee in November.

As the Special Envoy noted, the constitutional committee must be credible, balanced, and representative of the Syrian people. And we note, despite what the Special Envoy heard in Damascus, the United Nations has exclusive control over the committee’s membership, schedule, and scope of work – as affirmed by the Russian Federation in its January 2018 Sochi Declaration.

Mr. President, further obstruction on the committee’s formation is unacceptable. Further delay risks squandering the window of opportunity provided by the Turkish and Russian de-militarized zone that has succeeded in preventing further bloodshed in Idlib and beyond.

Parties have been consulted. No one should doubt that the UN Special Envoy has the mandate to move forward to establish the constitutional committee. Any list proposed by anyone must have the approval of the Special Envoy, not just in its membership, but in how it is compiled. That is his charge – and not just from Sochi, but from Paragraph 2 of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

And we should be in full agreement that there is no alternative to a UN political process as described in that resolution and agreed by a unanimous decision of this Council. That political process must move forward now.

Thank you, Mr. President.