Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 25, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to Special Envoy Pedersen for your briefing today. The United States reiterates its full support for the tireless efforts of you and your team to broker a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria. And a special thank you, hopefully, to Abeer Hussain – if she’s able to come back on – for her efforts and everything she does to empower women and girls in Syria.
Women and girls in Syria, and around the world, are disproportionately impacted by conflict and yet continue to be underrepresented in peace processes. That underrepresentation is unjust – and it also holds back peace. We need to support the Women’s Advisory Board, and similar efforts, because we know for a fact that involving women in the negotiations and resolution process leads to peace. And we need peace. Because after a decade of war, the suffering of the Syrian people has gone on far too long.
There is only one way forward for peace and stability in Syria: a resolution to the conflict and an end of the war. So the United States remains committed to Resolution 2254, as it provides the only path to just, sustainable political solution to the Syrian conflict. That decidedly is not what happened during the so-called election in May. These elections were not free. They were not fair. They were a sham, plain and simple. They did not include the millions of Syrians who have fled their homes and are displaced inside Syria or across the region. As the Security Council has unanimously declared, elections in Syria should occur pursuant to Resolution 2254 following enactment of a new constitution and under UN supervision. None of that happened.
The Syrian people deserve elections. And these elections should feature a diverse range of candidates, a safe voting environment, and a meaningful way for displaced people to participate. In the meantime, the on-going conflict in Syria poses a threat to regional and international security. We are particularly concerned about repeated violations of the Idlib ceasefire. Additionally, recent strikes like the ones that hit residential areas and al-Shifa hospital in Afrin cannot continue. Military actions – particularly against protected health facilities – will not lead to peace. They just lead to suffering. We call on all parties – all parties to adhere to the nationwide ceasefire. It’s time to engage in the political process and end the war.
We support efforts by the Office of the Special Envoy to secure the release of the tens of thousands of arbitrarily or wrongfully detained Syrians. The families of thousands of missing Syrians have waited far too long and deserve information about the fate of their loved ones. We also take note of Special Envoy Pedersen’s efforts to seek progress in the work of the Constitutional Committee. All parties should engage constructively with those good efforts. But absent progress in achieving political reforms, the United States will not normalize nor support any reconstruction aid that benefits the Assad regime.
Finally, we need to achieve a political solution – urgently – in no small part because of the dire humanitarian situation. And as we all know that situation will go from bad to worse if some Council members refuse to renew the cross-border mandate. The United States supports all methods of aid delivery – including cross-line. But as everyone made clear to me when I visited the border – refugees, NGOs, representatives, UN humanitarian workers, local experts – there is no alternative for cross-border assistance. None.
For millions of Syrians, Bab al-Hawa is a literal lifeline. And we must reauthorize it and reinstate Bab al-Salam and al Yaroubiyah. This dire humanitarian crisis directly informs the political situation. If we cut off cross-border aid, we further destabilize the region – it will encourage more internally displaced people to flee. So, we call on the Security Council to reauthorize and expand UN cross-border humanitarian assistance in order to give the Syrian people a future. A future for themselves. A future for their children. And a future that leads us to a sustainable, just peace.