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Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Zhang Jun on the Security Council Draft Resolution on the Mandate Renewal of Cross-border Mechanism in Syria

2020-07-07 23:27

China attaches great importance to the humanitarian situation in Syria and supports the international community and United Nations agencies in stepping up humanitarian relief for the Syrian people. China has been providing a wide range of assistance to Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels, including in the areas of food, medicine, education and public services, and played a positive role in improving the humanitarian situation on the ground. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has provided to Syria two batches of medical supplies and held video conferences with Syrian health experts in an effort to help the Syrian Government and people fight the virus.

It must be pointed out that unilateral coercive measures have further aggravated the economic and humanitarian crisis in Syria. Years of illegal sanctions have had immeasurable impact on the economic and social development of Syria, devastated livelihoods, and brought untold sufferings to innocent civilians. The unilateral coercive measures have also severely undermined Syria's capacity to respond to COVID-19. Secretary-General Guterres and Special Envoy Pedersen have repeatedly called on the relevant countries to lift unilateral coercive measures. To this end, China proposed amendments to the draft resolution. It is disappointing that the draft resolution submitted by copenholders completely ignores China's amendments and does not contain a single word about unilateral coercive measures. China is compelled to vote against such an unobjective and unbalanced draft resolution.

As long as the unilateral coercive measures are not lifted, there will be no fundamental improvement in the humanitarian situation in Syria. Some country, while claiming to be concerned about the suffering of Syrian civilians, has imposed additional unilateral coercive measures on Syria, ruthlessly stifling the livelihoods of Syrian people. China once again calls on the Security Council to address this critical issue, and urge the relevant countries to immediately lift the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria; We also request a comprehensive assessment by OCHA on the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the overall humanitarian situation in Syria, to be presented by the Secretary-General in a focused report to the Security Council.

China has repeatedly stated that the cross-border mechanism is merely an urgent and temporary arrangement. It is the primary responsibility of the Syrian Government to improve the humanitarian situation in the country, and its role is irreplaceable. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected. We take note of the recent progress in cross-line humanitarian operations in Syria. China encourages the relevant parties to step up their efforts to effectively remove obstacles to cross-line operations, give priority to the provision of humanitarian assistance from within Syrian territory, and make corresponding adjustments to the cross-border mechanism.

Considering that there are still needs for cross-border humanitarian assistance in Syria, China does not object to retaining the cross-border mechanism at this stage. Meanwhile, cross-border operations should strictly follow the guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance set out in the GA resolution 46/182, strengthen monitoring and increase transparency to ensure impartiality, neutrality and credibility. Coordination with the Syrian Government must be enhanced to prevent the use of crossing points for other purposes or diversion of relief supplies. China notes that there are still fundamental differences among Security Council members on the number of crossing points and extension period. China hopes that members will reach consensus through consultations.

I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize that China has consistently advocated a holistic and comprehensive approach for the Syrian issue. The political, counter-terrorism, security and humanitarian aspects must be considered altogether. Ultimately, the differences among parties concerned on the humanitarian issues in Syria must be resolved by advancing the Syrian political process. We urge all parties to strengthen dialogue, increase mutual trust, respond positively to the Secretary-General's global ceasefire appeal, and move towards a political solution to the Syrian issue.

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