Statement by the South African Mission to the United Nations, during the United Nations Security Council Open Video Teleconference on the Political situation in Syria, 18 May 2020

Thank you, Mr President,

Let me begin by thanking Special Envoy Geir Pedersen for his briefing on the political situation in Syria.

South Africa welcomes the relative calm across Syria and commends the parties for adhering to the 5 March ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia in the northwest, despite some incidents of shelling across the front lines. We call on the parties to work towards a permanent ceasefire that will pave the way to an enabling environment, in which an inclusive Syrian-led dialogue can take place, aimed at achieving a lasting political solution, reflective of the will of the Syrian people.

Special Envoy Pedersen’s constant and continued engagements with the various parties, provide him with the unique position and understanding to support negotiations for a nationwide ceasefire.

Mr President,

The roadmap for achieving a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the Syrian conflict has already been outlined in Resolution 2254 and we call for all sides to adhere to its provisions and its full implementation. South Africa also calls for this Council’s, and the international community’s, continued support for the Constitutional Committee and the various political processes undertaken to bring an end to the conflict in Syria.

South Africa remains fully supportive of the Constitutional Committee and appreciates the UN’s willingness and readiness to convene the third meeting, as soon as the global travel restrictions due to COVID-19, are lifted and allow for face-to-face meetings. We understand, through South Africa’s own experiences, that the constitutional drafting process can be challenging but can also result in distinct rewards for all sectors of society.

For there to be peace in Syria, it remains imperative that external interference in Syria must come to an end. South Africa fully supports Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

We are also concerned at the spill-over effect which the conflict in Syria has had on other regions, some indirectly so. This includes North Africa, where external interference has exacerbated the conflict and contributed to further instability. South Africa reaffirms that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria. It is only through dialogue, negotiations, trust and confidence in, and with all parties, that sustained peace and prosperity can be achieved in Syria.

Mr President,

With more than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 present in Syria, South Africa reiterates its support for the Special Envoy’s call for a complete and immediate nationwide ceasefire throughout Syria. This will indeed allow for both the Syrian Government, the UN and its implementing agencies to adequately prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage the parties to work together to create a unified response to combat COVID-19.

Moreover, in keeping with the call of the UN Secretary-General as well as other international actors, the economic measures on the Syrian government must be eased to allow for efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that all Syrians have access to the necessary equipment and supplies to fight the virus.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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