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Conseil de sécurité et Syrie, l'échec de deux projets de résolution concurrents et la fin du théâtre de dupe

Portrait de Pr. Philippe WECKEL
Soumis par Pr. Philippe WECKEL le dim, 10/09/2016 - 00:52

Le 3 octobre dernier les Etats-unis ont annoncé la suspension des discussions bilatérales américano-russes sur le conflit syrien, marquant ainsi officiellement l'échec de l'arrangement sur la trêve du 9 septembre 2016 :

SENTINELLE Bulletin n°486 du 25.09.2016 ,"Syrie, l'arrangement sur la trêve du 9 septembre 2016 en questions", Philippe Weckel

C'est dans ce contexte de tensions vives au sujet de la campagne aérienne qui se poursuit sur Alep, que la France s'est mobilisée cette semaine sur le projet d'une résolution du Conseil de sécurité. Par delà un optimisme très diplomatique cet Etat ne pouvait espérer rallier la Russie à un texte qui envisageait l'arrêt inconditionnel des attaques aériennes. La France voulait prendre date, placer les uns et les autres - surtout la Russie - face à leur responsabilité. L'initiative française est parvenue au résultat envisagé par tous, à savoir l'exercice par la Russie de son droit de veto.

Pour comprendre l'objet de cette initiative on se réfère au discours du Président Hollande devant l'Assemblée générale de l'ONU le 21 septembre :

...

Le dernier appel que je veux lancer ici, et peut-être le plus pathétique, concerne la Syrie. Cette tragédie syrienne sera devant l’Histoire une honte pour la communauté internationale si nous n’y mettons pas fin rapidement. Alep est une ville aujourd’hui martyre qui restera dans la mémoire des Nations comme une ville martyre. Des milliers d’enfants sont écrasés sous les bombes. Des populations entières sont affamées.Des convois humanitaires sont attaqués. Des armes chimiques sont utilisées. Eh bien, je n’ai qu’un seul mot à dire : ça suffit. Comme en février dernier, le cessez-le-feu n’aura tenu que quelques jours. Il aura volé en éclats dès le lendemain de son annonce, sans que l’on n’en connaisse d’ailleurs le contenu. Le régime est responsable de son échec et il ne peut pas s’exonérer sur des erreurs qui auraient pu être commises par d’autres. Et je dis à ses soutiens étrangers que chacun connait ici, qu’ils doivent forcer la paix, sinon ils porteront avec le régime la responsabilité de la partition et du chaos en Syrie. Le Conseil de sécurité doit se réunir dans les meilleurs délais, et ne doit pas être un théâtre de dupe, c’est-à-dire un endroit où chacun se renvoie la responsabilité et où certains entravent le travail du Conseil de sécurité pour soi-disant protéger un régime alors même qu’ils doivent chercher avec nous une solution.

La France a quatre exigences. Imposer d’abord de cessez-le-feu, conformément aux décisions qui ont été prises. Ça, c’est le préalable. Ensuite, assurer l’acheminement immédiat de l’aide humanitaire à Alep et aux autres villes martyres. Ça, c’est l’urgence. Permettre la reprise des négociations politiques selon les principes de la transition qui avaient été établis déjà en 2012. Ça, c’est la solution. Enfin, sanctionner le recours aux armes chimiques. Ça, c’est la justice.

...

L'impuissance des Nations unies est-t-elle honteuse ? Elle le serait sans-doute si tout n'était pas tenté pour faire cesser le carnage à Alep. L'initiative française de cette semaine exprime une détermination collective et une indignation. Parallèlement le Représentant spécial de l'ONU, M. Staffan de Mistura, a fait une proposition concrète pour faciliter la cessation des bombardements. Elle était bizarre et peu réaliste. En effet, assurer le retrait sous protection internationale des combattants extrémistes du Front Fatah al-Cham aurait apporté une forme de légitimité à ce groupe. Du côté occidental on a évité de commenter le plan De Mistura, se contentant de relever qu'il faudrait d'abord l'accord du groupe en question. Le refus de ce dernier n'a d'ailleurs pas tardé. Le représentat du Secrétaire général aura ainsi fait ce qu'il pouvait dans les circonstances présentes. La honte n'est pas du côté de la Communauté internationale. Il n'y a pas de honte non plus pour les Etats-Unis à vouloir éviter un engrenage militaire avec la Russie. Dans un tel contexte il n'est pas vain de montrer, en forçant la Russie à opposer son cinquième veto dans le conflit en Syrie, où se situe la responsabilité du désastre et du chaos qui avaient d'ailleurs été prédits avec insistance dès 2011, spécialement par la diplomatie française. 

On comprend bien que cette responsabilité, évoquée dans le contexte et les circonstances du moment, est de nature morale. En soutenant par son action diplomatique les attaques dont les civils sont les victimes et les cibles d'ailleurs, la Russie s'exposerait au jugement du tribunal de l'opinion et de l'Histoire : 

 «Un pays qui mettrait le veto à cette résolution serait discrédité aux yeux du monde. Il serait responsable de la poursuite des exactions»

François Hollande, 7 octobre 2016

Il n'est donc pas question actuellement de responsabilité juridique, alors même que la qualification de crimes de guerre a été largement utilisée par le Secrétaire général de l'ONU notamment. Néanmoins l’Ambassadeur du Royaume-Uni n’hésite pas à attribuer les crimes de guerre à la Russie (1). Il peut avoir raison dans une mesure qui reste incertaine, mais il n’est pas souhaitable que les diplomates s’engagent sur ce terrain de la stigmatisation d’un Etat en usant de qualifications juridiques dont ils seraient incapables de démontrer la pertinence.

La Russie est néanmoins sous pression. Elle a attendu le dernier moment, vendredi soir, pour déposer un projet de résolution concurrent de celui de la France. Elle n'a donc pas été en mesure d'obtenir les amendements au projet franco-espagnol qu'elle souhaitait. C'en est donc assez du théâtre de dupe qu'impose la Russie au Conseil de sécurité. Cette dernière n'en a pas fini avec ce front de révolte («une révolte de la conscience humaine», selon la formule du Ministre français des affaires étrangères). En effet, elle devrait être confrontée prochainement à un projet de résolution sur la poursuite des responsables  des attaques chimiques en Syrie :

SENTINELLE, Bulletin n°484 du 11.09.2016 ,"Le Mécanisme d'enquête attribue des attaques chimiques au régime syrien", Philippe Weckel

Le soutien du Conseil de sécurité sera sans-doute sollicité aussi pour que le Secrétaire général puisse mener à bien l'enquête sur la destruction du convoi humanitaire le 19 septembre. Les cinq Etats directement affectés par la destruction du vol MH17 se rappelleront également au bon souvenir de la Russie, lorsque l'enquête judiciaire conjointe aura suffisamment progressé :

SENTINELLE, Bulletin 487 du 02.10.2016, "Premières conclusions de l'enquête judiciaire conjointe sur la destruction du MH17", Philippe Weckel

Enfin M. John Kerry a évoqué cette semaine la nécessité d'une enquête sur les responsables des crimes de guerre commis à Alep (voir la longue discussion du porte-parole du Département d'Etat avec la presse (2)). Les attaques délibérées et massives contre les hôpitaux devraient fournir l'occasion d'explorer les potentialités que recèle la Résolution 2286 (2016) du 3 mai dernier relative à la protection de l'assistance médicale à la population civile dans les conflits armés. Cette semaine l'un des co-rédacteurs de cette résolution, la Nouvelle-Zélande, a manifesté son intention de rédiger un projet de résolution sur la situation à Alep.

SENTINELLE, Bulletin n°474 du 08.04.2016, "Résolution 2286(2016) : Le Conseil de sécurité veille à la protection de l'assistance médicale à la population dans les conflits armés", Philippe Weckel

Si la Russie était acculée à opposer systématiquement son veto aux différents projets de résolution visant des violations graves du droit international, la question de sa responsabilité internationale serait vraisemblablement posée, en relation avec ses actions sur le terrain : article 16 du Projet d'articles de 2001 (Aide ou assistance dans la commission du fait illicite) ou violation de l'obligation de diligence dans la prévention et la répression d'un crime international). Cette semaine l'adoption de sanctions contre la Russie.a été évoquée du côté allemand, une idée encore discrète et impalpable comme une effluve...

Pour l'heure, la Russie a pu mesurer la faiblesse de ses soutiens lors des votes au Conseil de sécurité de ce samedi 8 octobre 2016. Le projet franco-espagnol a recueilli 11 voix pour, 2 voix contre ((Russie et Venezuela) avec deux abstentions (Chine et Angola). La Chine n'a donc pas exercé son droit de veto. Elle l'avait fait par le passé. La majorité qualifiée (celle qui est nécessaire à l'adoption d'une résolution), soit 9 voix, s'est portée contre le texte présenté par la Russie. 4 Etats ont voté pour  (Venezuela, Égypte, Chine et Russie), 2 Etats s'abstenant (Angola et Uruguay).

L'Egypte qui, sans doute, aime tout le monde, a voté pour les deux textes. Cette attitude n'est pas surprenante. En effet le projet russe semblait d'autant moins choquant qu'il reprenait en substance l'arrangement américano-russe du 9 septembre dernier. Le texte russe était "équilibré" (voir à ce sujet le propos de l’Ambassadrice des Etats-Unis (3)). Une large majorité a néanmoins voté pour mettre effectivement fin au carnage. Finalement ce que tout le monde avait encensé trois semaines auparavant, sans connaître vraiment le contenu de l'arrangement, a donc été fermement écarté. Le rejet du "théâtre de dupe" imposé par la Russie a fait son oeuvre. Si les deux projets ont échoué, le parallèle entre les deux situations n'est pas pertinent : le texte franco-espagnol a été "vétoïsé", c'est-à-dire qu'il aurait été adopté si la Russie n'avait pas opposé son veto ; le texte russe a été largement rejeté, parce qu'il n'a recueilli que 4 voix, alors que 9 voix étaient nécessaires.

Le dossier syrien est ainsi retourné au Conseil de sécurité. Que la Russie y pratique l'obstruction ne devrait pas inciter à rechercher des palliatifs pour y remédier, c'est-à-dire le dialogue bilatéral américano-russe et les réunions du groupe de soutien que ces deux Etats dirigent. Ainsi la France explique son initiative par cette volonté de recentrage de l'activité diplomatique en faveur du règlement de la crise syrienne :

"Les Américains, qui ont négocié un accord avec les Russes, qui co-président le groupe international de soutien, ont une responsabilité particulière. Et au regard de la gravité de ce conflit, cette responsabilité prend une dimension historique. Alors, nous leur demandons d’être à la hauteur. Mais, nous voyons aussi les limites du fonctionnement du GISS. Il est temps de passer à une approche plus collective".

Conférence de presse de Jean-Marc Ayrault, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international - 23 septembre 2016

De fait d'ailleurs le "gouvernorat" américano-russe sur la crise syrienne a vécu. Cette multilatéralisation rappelle l'évolution dans la gestion de la crise nucléaire iranienne;

Le projet franco-espagnol reprenait les bases consensuelles qui avait inspiré l'arrangement américano-russe (le texte de cet accord a été publié dans la version russe sur le site du ministère russe des affaires étrangères). La France a accepté d'en expurger certains éléments dont la référence à l'utilisation d'armes chimiques. Le texte établissait une cessation des hostilités et l'accès de l'aide humanitaire aux populations civiles. Néanmoins il allait plus loin.

En effet il instaurait une interdiction inconditionnelle de survol et d'attaque aérienne au dessus de la ville d'Alep. Cette interdiction visait toutes les parties au conflit, magré la volonté des Etats-Unis de la limiter à la partie syrienne et russe. Ainsi un membre permanent se voyait interdire de poursuivre ses opérations militaires, car la résolution vétoïsée mentionnait expressément l'article 25 de la Charte. La Russie n'a pas manqué de souligner le caractère inédit de ce texte qui la poussait sans aucun doute à faire usage du veto.

Le projet invitait le Secrétaire général à faire des propositions sur la mise en oeuvre et le suivi de la trêve. C'est donc le Conseil qui allait adopter ces mesures.

L'accès inconditionnel de l'aide humanitaire était établi pour toutes les populations dans le besoin, c'est-à-dire assiégées.

Le contre-projet déposé par la Russie excluait ces innovations introduites par le texte franco-espagnol. Il se référait à l'arrangement du 9 septembre qui y était annexé. Il était centré sur la lutte antiterroriste et la nécessité de viser tous les groupes considérés comme tels. Sur ce point le projet franco-espagnol a été renforcé au cours de la discussion, sans que ces modifications suffisent à donner satisfaction à la Russie.

Cette confrontation au Conseil de sécurité le 8 octobre 2016 marque la fin de la position diplomatique privilégiée de la Russie dans la gestion de la crise syrienne, un leadership partagé avec les Etats-Unis dont elle n'aura usé finalement que pour entraver et détourner l'action de la Communauté internationale. "Ca suffit" !

 

DOCUMENTS

  • Projet franco-espagnol (bleu)

Source : un-report

The Security Council, 
 Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2191 (2014) 2209 (2015), 2254 (2015) 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016),  
Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, 
Gravely distressed by the continued deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria, and the fact that now more than 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, and that about 6.1 million people are internally displaced (in addition to the half a million Palestinian refugees who had settled in Syria), several hundred thousands of people are suffering in besieged areas, 
Expressing outrage at the alarming number of civilian casualties caused by  escalating level of violence and at the intensified campaigns, in recent days, of indiscriminate aerial bombings in Aleppo and recalling in this regard the statements made on 25th September by the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, reporting a situation in eastern Aleppo that “deteriorates to new heights of horror”, as well as by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, on 29th September, reporting a situation of “now besieged eastern Aleppo”, 
Strongly condemning the increased terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction carried out by the control of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al Nusrah Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL (also known as Daesh), and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council, and reiterating its call on all parties to commit to putting an end to terrorist acts perpetrated by such organizations and individualswhile reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever, and by whomsoever committed, 
Gravely concerned at the lack of effective implementation of its resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and 2258 (2016) and recalling in this regard the legal obligations of all parties under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as all the relevant decisions of the Security Council, including by ceasing all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including those involving attacks on schools, medical facilities and the deliberate interruptions of water supply, the indiscriminate use of weapons, including artillery, barrel bombs and air strikes, indiscriminate shelling by mortars, car bombs, suicide attacks and tunnel bombs, as well as the use of starvation of civilians as a method of combat, including by the besiegement of populated areas, and the widespread use of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary executions, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, as well as all grave violations and abuses committed against children, 
Taking note of the decision of the Secretary-General to establish an internal United Nations Board of Inquiry on the incident involving bombing of a United Nations – Syrian Arab Red Crescent relief operation to Urum al-Kubra, Syria, on 19 September 2016,urging all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Board and underlining the importance of completing the investigation without delay with a view to hold the perpetrators accountable,
Strongly condemning the widespread violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, stressing the need to end impunity for these violations and abuses, and re-emphasizing in this regard the need that those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for such violations and abuses in Syria must be brought to justice, 
Emphasizing that the humanitarian and human rights situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region, and will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the crisis, and stressing in this regard that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria,
Reaffirming its intent, expressed in its resolution 2258 (2015) to take further measures in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191(2014), 
Taking note of the efforts undertaken in the framework of the International Syria Support Group to implement a cessation of hostilities in Syria and to facilitate humanitarian access and assistance, and recalling its resolution 2268 urging all Member States, especially members of the International Syria Support Group, to support efforts to create conditions for a durable and lasting ceasefire,
Recalling that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council’s decisions, 
 
1. Demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable, including with respect to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and fully and immediately implement all the provisions of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016), and recalls that those violations and abuses committed in Syria that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity shall not go unpunished; 
 
2. Urges immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities as well as immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria;
 
3. Demands that all parties immediately end all aerial bombardments of and military flights over Aleppo city;
 
4. Calls on all parties to prevent material and financial support from reaching individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL (also known as Daesh), and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council, and urges members of the International Syria support group to dissuade any party from fighting in collaboration with them; 
 
5. Underlines the need for an enhanced monitoring of the respect of the cessation of hostilities under the supervision of the United Nations, requests the Secretary General to propose options to this effect, with a view to a swift implementation, and encourages all member States, especially the members of the International Syria Support Group, to increase their contribution to the information of the monitoring mechanism; 
 
4. bis Demands all parties to comply with United Nations and their implementing partners requests for humanitarian access including by observing the cessation of hostilities as described in resolution 2268 (2016), and ending all bombardments of and military flights over Aleppo city , in order to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access including to all of Aleppo by the United Nations and their implementing partners, recognizing this requires a sustained absence of violence as determined sufficient by the United Nations and their implementing partners to allow humanitarian assistance; 
 
4. ter Underlines that humanitarian access should be to the full number of people in need as identified by the United Nations and their implementing partners, with the full spectrum of humanitarian assistance as determined by the United Nations and their implementing partners, and evacuation of urgent medical cases should be facilitated by all sides based solely on urgency and need; 
 
5. Requests further the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution, by all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict, every two weeks; 
 
6. Reiterates that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions, as well as full implementation of resolutions 2254 (2015) and 2268 (2016);
 
7. Expresses in this regard its fullest support for the Special Envoy’s efforts towards a full implementation of resolution 2254 and urges all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict to cooperate constructively and in good faith with the Special Envoy to this end, especially with  a view to immediately address the situation in Aleppo;
 
8.  Expresses its intent to take further measures under the Charter of the United Nations in the event of non-compliance with this resolution by any party to the Syrian domestic conflict; 
 
9.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
 

Washington, DC, October 7, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Hey. Good – I mean, good morning. (Laughter.)

My great pleasure to welcome Jean-Marc Ayrault to Washington, and I’m really very happy to have our French counterpart here with us. France, of course, the oldest alliance and relationship with the United States, and a great friend and partner in everything that we undertake, ranging from Iran nuclear agreements to Africa and unrest and terrorism, to the Middle East, to Israel-Palestine, Syria – there really isn’t an issue of importance in the world today where we are not engaged and working together.

I very much appreciate France’s partnership with respect to Syria and its shared, profound, deep concern about what is happening in Syria today. Last night, the regime attacked yet another hospital, and 20 people were killed and 100 people were wounded. And Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women. These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions. They’re beyond the accidental now – way beyond. Years beyond the accidental. This is a targeted strategy to terrorize civilians and to kill anybody and everybody who is in the way of their military objectives.

So we look forward today to a very frank conversation about what potential next steps are, and we intend to jointly figure out how best to be able to deliver the strongest message possible about the actions that might be taken to deal with this bombing of Aleppo, this siege in the 21st century, this entire siege of innocent people.

We also need to keep the pressure up on Russia with respect to the implementation of the Minsk agreement. And we – I think it is important for us to make it clear publicly that if we cannot implement Minsk in the next months or arrive at a clear plan as to exactly how it is going to be implemented – which we are working on – then it will be absolutely necessary to roll over the sanctions, which is not our desire, but becomes the only thing left to do if we’re not able to move forward.

I also want to thank France for its leadership on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I encourage France to work very closely with the EU 28 member-states to reach a political agreement as fast as possible. We’re all concerned about the violence, we’re concerned about the constitution and adherence to it, and it is important to be able to proceed.

And finally, let me just extend my very best wishes on behalf of our country to one President Juan Manuel Santos for winning the Nobel Prize for his courageous efforts to try to bring peace to Colombia. And we obviously all hope, having been there during the process and invested in it, that this can still work out and get over the hurdles that remain. And I will be talking later today with former President Uribe in efforts to try to find out how we can help encourage that.

So a warm welcome to my friend Jean-Marc. Thank you for being with us. Merci.

FOREIGN MINISTER AYRAULT: Thank you very much, John. I’m very happy to see you again and to have this meeting with you, with a colleague, but a friend too. We are the two countries, the best old allies – so important in many so difficult situation, yet like you, you explain in your speech. And my first issue is the situation in Syria. I was yesterday in Moscow. I met Sergey Lavrov to speak with him to find a solution.

You mentioned, John, President Santos. It’s a very good example of another method, as we’re to find a solution – is the negotiation to find the solution to peace – for peace. And in the case of Syria, we have now a tragedy – human tragedy. It’s not inacceptable for human conscience when you have to do anything to find a solution through a new possibility of negotiation. And we prepared a draft for the Security Council. We spoke together about this project when we – we continue the discussion now with this meeting, John. It’s very important.

(Via interpreter) And tomorrow will be a moment of truth – a moment of truth for all the members of the Security Council – do you, yes or no, want a ceasefire in Aleppo? And the question is in particular for our Russian partners, like I said to Sergey Lavrov yesterday.

Today’s (inaudible) we’re tabling – of course, it is open for discussion, but there are two strong pillars. The first one is the ceasefire and a no-fly zone over Aleppo. And the second pillar is access for humanitarian aid. We’re not giving up, just like Staffan de Mistura, the special representative of the United Nations. We’re not giving up and we cannot accept that Aleppo will be totally destroyed by Christmas. This is the reason why I traveled to Moscow, this is the reason why I came to Washington, D.C. to see you, and I’m looking forward to continuing this discussion with you because I know, John, that we do share the same goals and the same values.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Mr. Minister, can you draft a resolution acceptable to the Russians in order to save the people of Aleppo?

FOREIGN MINISTER AYRAULT: This is our goal, the first only one.

John Kirby, Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC, October 3, 2016

The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the Cessation of Hostilities. This is not a decision that was taken lightly. The United States spared no effort in negotiating and attempting to implement an arrangement with Russia aimed at reducing violence, providing unhindered humanitarian access, and degrading terrorist organizations operating in Syria, including Daesh and al Qaeda in Syria.

Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments - including its obligations under international humanitarian law and UNSCR 2254 - and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed. Rather, Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course, inconsistent with the Cessation of Hostilities, as demonstrated by their intensified attacks against civilian areas, targeting of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need, including through the September 19 attack on a humanitarian aid convoy.

The U.S. will also withdraw personnel that had been dispatched in anticipation of the possible establishment of the Joint Implementation Center. To ensure the safety of our respective military personnel and enable the fight against Daesh, the United States will continue to utilize the channel of communications established with Russia to de-conflict counterterrorism operations in Syria.

  • John Kirby, Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, October 7, 2016, SYRIA/REGION

QUESTION: Okay. On to Syria and the Secretary’s comments earlier this morning, one is: Do you know what strike he was talking about in his comments overnight on a hospital in Aleppo?

MR KIRBY: I think the Secretary’s referring actually to a strike that we saw happen yesterday on a field hospital in the Rif Dimashq Governorate. I’m not exactly positive that that’s what he was referring to, but I think he was referring to actually one that was --

QUESTION: Not one in Aleppo?

MR KIRBY: I believe it was – I think it was – I think he – my guess is – I’m guessing here that he was a bit mistaken on location and referring to one --

QUESTION: Which location? Sorry.

MR KIRBY: A field hospital in Rif Dimashq Governorate.

QUESTION: Was it --

MR KIRBY: So I think he was referring to one yesterday.

QUESTION: Definitely yesterday, though? It wasn’t one from Wednesday?

MR KIRBY: I think he was referring to one yesterday, and I know of another one on a hospital Monday, but I think that’s what he was referring to.

QUESTION: Is there a way you guys can check?

MR KIRBY: We did. I mean, believe me, I knew I was going to get asked this question.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MR KIRBY: We looked at it and --

QUESTION: But you don’t have certainty, though?

MR KIRBY: I don’t. Best I got, best information I got, is that he was most likely referring to one yesterday in this governorate, but it could just be an honest mistake.

QUESTION: If we could – if we can nail that down with certainty what he was talking about --

MR KIRBY: I’ll do the best I can, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR KIRBY: But again, knowing I was going to be asked this today, I did try to do as much research as I could.

QUESTION: All right. Okay.

MR KIRBY: I could not find one last night in Aleppo.

QUESTION: Then --

QUESTION: The precise death totals were 20 and 100 --

MR KIRBY: I recognize that. I can’t corroborate that. But look, let’s take 10 steps back here. I mean, over the last two weeks, we think almost 400 people now have been killed in Aleppo alone. So whether or not there was a strike last night in a hospital or Aleppo is kind of beside the point. The point he was – the broader point that he was trying to make is that the Russians and the Syrian regime continue this onslaught on Aleppo. And just over the last two weeks alone, as I said, almost 400 people, best we can tell, have been killed. And that doesn’t even count the wounded.

QUESTION: Can – then get – so if we could get clarity on that, that would be great. But the second --

MR KIRBY: I will do what I can, Matt, but I can’t promise --

QUESTION: -- I would also like – also seeking clarity on who exactly does the Secretary believe should do this investigation into possible war crimes. Because if it’s the ICC, to which you are not a party – I mean, that has got to go through the Security Council. Syria is not a party, neither is Russia, and it’s got – so it’s got to go through the Security Council. And there’s – the chances of that happening – in other words, a Security Council referral – are less than slim and none.

MR KIRBY: I think the Secretary was referring to his view that there should be – that these actions beg for an appropriate investigation. He wasn’t --

QUESTION: By who?

MR KIRBY: Well, he wasn’t getting ahead of the process. He was simply referring to the fact that we know these acts are violations of international law and they should be so investigated, and appropriately so. He wasn’t – that was the extent of his comment. That was the extent of the point he was trying to make. He wasn’t trying to get ahead of the process.

QUESTION: Well, was he just trying to make the point that these look like war crimes, as opposed to formally calling for a war crimes investigation? And to that point, I mean, it’s no secret that the U.S. has been working with Syrian groups and others to try and document some of these atrocities as potential war crimes for future accountability down the road.

MR KIRBY: I think, again, you heard him say when he was up at the UN a couple weeks ago – he talked about how the actions of the regime in particular were violations of international law. And I mean, we’re talking about bombing hospitals and bombing first responders and killing innocent civilians, not by accident but on purpose. And so this isn’t the first time he’s talked about the fact that these are violations of international law; and again, today he was simply making the point that because we believe they’re violations, they should be appropriately investigated.

QUESTION: I understand. But I mean --

QUESTION: By who?

QUESTION: -- it does seem --

MR KIRBY: I’ve answered that question.

QUESTION: I mean, I’m --

MR KIRBY: He wasn’t trying to make a specific point about by whom.

QUESTION: I understand that. But it does seem as if there is a violation of international law and there’s war crimes, and war crimes come – that is obviously a legal determination that comes with a lot more responsibility to hold those accountable. And I’m wondering where this building and where this Administration is in terms of determining whether these are war crimes and trying to document them as such for some type of future accountability, regardless of who right now is investigating it.

MR KIRBY: We certainly believe that the violations we’ve seen – the strikes and the attacks and the manner in which, that they have been conducted – merit and deserve an evaluation, a review, an investigation – call it what you will – as potential war crimes. Now, you’re right that there’s a very specific legal, technical definition – I’m not an expert on that, wouldn’t pretend to be – that comes with making that determination. And the Secretary wasn’t making that determination today. He was saying that these actions beg an appropriate investigation.

QUESTION: Well, but by saying that these accusations beg an investigation on war crimes – again, regardless who does it – that would suggest that he wants to know whether these are war crime – or fit the legal definition or not. And again, that would cause a whole – open up a whole other avenue of potential measures, policy decisions, and such.

MR KIRBY: Well, again, I’m not going to get ahead of the process, and I don’t think the Secretary was trying to do that either. I think he was giving an honest – his honest view that these violations of international law should be properly investigated for the potential to be determined as war crimes and that – and we’ve said this before – that if such a determination is made, people need to be held to account.

QUESTION: So is kind of throwing it out there, like whoever wants to investigate it as war crimes should do so? Or is he saying that there needs to be an --

MR KIRBY: He was simply saying that he believes these actions beg an appropriate investigation.

QUESTION: And is he willing to --

MR KIRBY: He wasn’t making a determination or offering an opinion or a view of who should do it or when.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, is he willing to spearhead – is he willing, as he’s done with other things – is he willing --

MR KIRBY: I think this is a discussion that he thinks should happen inside the UN and inside the international community.

QUESTION: John --

QUESTION: Simply stated, does the U.S. Government believe, based on all the information that it has gathered, that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria?

MR KIRBY: I would again point you back to what he said at the UN and what he said today, that – he said that these strikes are clear violations of international law.

QUESTION: That’s not what he said today.

MR KIRBY: No, but he said that at the UN.

QUESTION: I remember.

MR KIRBY: Okay, I’m – so I think it’s important though to go back to – this isn’t a new idea here, what he said today. And what he said today was these acts, these acts which we – which he has said publicly have violated international law, ought to be appropriately investigated. But are we – are we ready now to make that call and say yep, absolutely? No. That’s why he wants to see them looked into.

QUESTION: Okay. So you’re not ready to say that you believe that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria.

MR KIRBY: No, and the Secretary didn’t allude to that today either.

QUESTION: All right, I got it. Okay. And then second thing: Do you think it is fair, based on what he said today, to say that he is calling for an investigation – not just that this cries out for investigation but that he’s actually calling for one, or does that --

MR KIRBY: Well, I mean --

QUESTION: Or does this stop short of that?

MR KIRBY: I don’t – I mean, I don’t know how helpful it is to parse the verbs. I would just point you back to what he said --

QUESTION: Actually, it’s very important.

MR KIRBY: I would point you back to what he said himself, which – that these are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. So if you’re asking me would he like to see them appropriately investigated? My answer is yes, and that’s right from what he said, and I think I’d leave it at --

QUESTION: John, just to clarify: Would he like to see whom do the investigation?

MR KIRBY: He didn’t – again, the Secretary is not getting ahead of a process here, but he does think that this is a conversation worth having inside the international community.

QUESTION: Is it – John, is it fair to just regard this then as kind of a rhetorical exercise to kind of increase the pressure on the Russians before the vote at the UN Security Council? And essentially all you’re doing is just upping the rhetoric, but you’re not actually saying you believe war crimes were committed. You’re not actually calling for an investigation of war crimes. You’re not actually directly accusing the Russians of war crimes. You’re just tossing some words around ahead of a Security Council vote; is that the way to look at this?

MR KIRBY: No, I wouldn't look it at that way at all. He’s the Secretary of State, he doesn’t just toss words around for rhetorical exercises. You have seen his frustration build. You, yourself – all of you have seen his frustration build over the last several weeks. You heard what he said at the UN, called it like he saw it, that these were clear violations of international law. And today, he said that they begged for an appropriate investigation, and I think he meant every word of what he said. I’m not trying to parse here. I’m not trying to be – to dance around this thing, but the Secretary believes that what’s happening is an abomination, is – obviously violates international law. We’re talking, again – let’s remember and let’s remind people we’re talking about hospitals and homes and businesses and innocent men and women and children --

QUESTION: So why hasn’t there been an investigation thus far then?

MR KIRBY: I can’t answer that question, Elise.

QUESTION: But why isn’t the U.S. calling for one?

MR KIRBY: But I can tell you that the Secretary is interested in seeing that move forward.

QUESTION: Are you ready to spearhead that kind of investigation?

MR KIRBY: I’m not going to get ahead of specific process here, Elise.

QUESTION: John.

QUESTION: Well, then why, as Arshad said, isn’t it – if he said it and he’s not willing to move forward with that, he was just throwing out an idea? I don’t understand what --

MR KIRBY: I think, as I said to Arshad, he’s interested in having a conversation inside the international community about this.

QUESTION: Is he going to start having that conversation with his counterparts?

MR KIRBY: I think you can safely assume that international leaders have already talked about the degree to which these violations are, in fact, violations of international law.

QUESTION: John, you know, as Matt said, that Syria is not a state party to the Rome Statute, so the court --

QUESTION: Neither is the U.S.

QUESTION: -- the ICC does not have jurisdiction automatically. And you also know that the only way, therefore, for it to have jurisdiction is for it to be referred – for the matter to be referred by the Security Council, where Russia, as you, finally, know, has a veto. So given that – right – given that the one court in the world that’s supposed to deal with these kinds of issues – right --

MR KIRBY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- can’t unless Russia agrees to be investigated, which seems impossible, why shouldn't one regard it all as a rhetorical exercise because you know the ICC ain’t going to get jurisdiction to look into this?

MR KIRBY: Well, again, Arshad, fair question, but I’m simply not going to get ahead of the legal process here. I’m not educated enough to do that in the first place, and secondly, that wasn’t the Secretary’s intent today. He was expressing the frustration he has seen, the fact that he does believe an appropriate investigation is warranted, and that’s a discussion that he and other international leaders have to have in terms of process and how that would be done.

I take your points about the ICC, and I take your point about the UN Security Council and Russia’s veto. I think you can safely assume that the Secretary was aware of both those facts when he talked about this in the General Assembly and when he talked about it today standing next to Foreign Minister Ayrault.

QUESTION: Just a quick one on that. Are you expecting a vote tomorrow? And will he go up for it if there is one?

MR KIRBY: I don’t have any travel to New York City to announce on the Secretary’s behalf.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: And could you – the point of what he said was to start a conversation inside the international community? I mean, it seems to me there’s been conversation going on for the last five years. If he feels that strongly about it, why isn’t it time to move beyond the conversating --

MR KIRBY: He was referring to what’s happening in the last several weeks in Aleppo specifically, Matt.

QUESTION: Well --

MR KIRBY: But look, obviously, there’s been --

QUESTION: -- but there’s been – everyone is – there’s a lot of talk. It’s all talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. And now it sounds like this is just more talk. Where is – does it – if he feels that strongly, why is not – why is there not – why isn’t that talk turning into some kind of action?

MR KIRBY: It very well might, Matt. I can’t – I’m not going to rule out the fact that it won’t lead to some action.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about de Mistura.

QUESTION: Earlier this week, the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN talked about this particular issue and said that Syria and Russia – and that the UN should change the rules about who – how countries are referred to the International Criminal Court so that countries that wield the veto power can’t prevent themselves from being referred to the ICC. Does the Secretary, does the State Department agree with that position now?

MR KIRBY: I’ll have to take the question. I don’t – I don’t know if we have a view on that proposal.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I just ask on – I mean, I think --

QUESTION: I mean – I’m sorry, but why not? I mean, that’s – it’s very germane to this particular issue that we’re – that you guys are all frustrated about for the past two weeks.

MR KIRBY: Your question implies that we haven’t taken a view of it. I don’t know. The reason why I’m not answering your question is because I don’t know and I’m not going to get up here and wing it for you. So I will take your --

QUESTION: Can you find out?

MR KIRBY: That’s what I said. I’ll take your question, sir, and we’ll get back to you. So don’t --

QUESTION: So – thanks.

MR KIRBY: Don’t presume by the fact that I’m taking your question that there’s no opinion here in the building. It just means that I’m not aware of it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: I think some of the confusion today is that Kerry’s remarks were seen as a change in stance, that it was seen as a stronger statement that he had issued before explicitly calling for a war crimes investigation. So I just have two questions. Are you, one, saying that this does not reflect a change in the stance, that his comments today do not mark a shift in tone? And also, is it – there’s confusion about the fact that he was presumably referring to an event that led him to give this sharper statement. Are you saying you can’t identify with certainty what that event was, which attack he was specifically referring to?

MR KIRBY: He was referring specifically – the acts he was referring to were about recent siege activity around Aleppo.

QUESTION: But this one where he said 20 dead, 100 wounded – you guys don’t know --

MR KIRBY: I don’t have specific information on that particular event. I told you before, I tried to research that before coming out here. I don’t have any specifics. But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that in this week alone, since Monday, we know of at least two attacks on hospitals and that over the last two weeks almost 400 people have been killed.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR KIRBY: So he’s talking – when he talks about these acts beg for an appropriate investigation, he’s not simply talking about the one strike that he’s – that he detailed for you today.

QUESTION: So --

MR KIRBY: And then on the change of tone, I don’t see this as a change in tone, and I’ve been with him now throughout this process. He – you – I can point you back to what he said at the UN during the General Assembly. I mean, this is not a new idea – as I said to Arshad – not a new idea for him that these are violations of international law, and we have long said that people should be held to account for these violations. So it’s not a big leap at all for him to say that it would beg for an appropriate investigation.

QUESTION: Could I follow up on what --

MR KIRBY: Sure. Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: -- the de Mistura proposal? He suggested that the al-Nusrah and the militants pull out of Aleppo. Would you support something like this, or would you have a mechanism or would you suggest a mechanism to do that?

MR KIRBY: Well, we’ve seen the special envoy’s proposal. We understand the frustration behind it. And what I would say is we’re going to continue to have a healthy conversation with Staffan de Mistura about the way ahead, about trying to get to a ceasefire, to a cessation of hostilities. And what needs to happen, Said, more critically, is that the siege of Aleppo needs to stop.

QUESTION: Right. Okay --

QUESTION: Well, but --

QUESTION: -- let me just follow up with the numbers. Do you have any – on the figures. Do you have any actual numbers on the number of militants that are in eastern Aleppo?

MR KIRBY: I can’t verify --

QUESTION: Because the figures suggest anywhere between six to eight thousand, some say there is a thousand Nusrah in eastern Aleppo and so on. How do you determine how many --

MR KIRBY: I can’t validate those numbers. I would point you to Mr. de Mistura to do that. We – and we’ve said this before that we don’t believe that al-Nusrah comprises anywhere near a majority of the fighters in Aleppo, but I couldn’t give you an exact figure. I can’t verify those numbers.

QUESTION: But if the --

QUESTION: My last question on this, my last question on this is that the suggestion by the Syrian Government that if the militants surrender, give up, they have amnesty, do you have any comment on that? I mean, is that --

MR KIRBY: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: The Syrian Government suggested that if the militants surrender and give up their arms, they will be given amnesty. Do you – do you think --

MR KIRBY: I think anybody that would take at face value --

QUESTION: Is that something that would have merit?

MR KIRBY: I think anybody that would take at face value anything coming out of the regime would be foolish given the --

QUESTION: Okay. They are the ones that are fighting them on the ground.

MR KIRBY: -- given what this regime has proven capable of doing.

QUESTION: Yeah. But they’re --

MR KIRBY: And I don’t see – look, the continued bombing and siege of Aleppo isn’t going to reduce the fervor with which many in the opposition are fighting. And I think it would – we’ve seen time and time again the Assad regime promising to do something and then failing to do it. So I don’t know how anybody could take that as a credible offer.

QUESTION: Wait. You just said – but wait a minute. You just said that the lifting of the siege of Aleppo would not stop the opposition from fighting with the fervor that which they’re fighting?

MR KIRBY: No, I said absent --

QUESTION: Okay, sorry.

MR KIRBY: Absent that.

QUESTION: So – okay. So if – I mean, I think it’s a long shot that Nusrah is just going to be like, sure, let me just get safe passage out of the city, but let’s just hypothetically, if you could find a way to implement this proposal that would, in fact, get the Russians to lift the siege --

MR KIRBY: I don’t know if it would or not.

QUESTION: -- get the Syrians to lift the siege of Aleppo, would you support safe passage of al-Nusrah out of this?

MR KIRBY: Al-Nusrah remains a party outside – I’m sorry, outside --

QUESTION: But you want to separate them, so where are they supposed to go?

MR KIRBY: -- outside the cessation of hostilities.

QUESTION: No, I understand. But you can’t on one hand say that you’re going to ask them to separate and on the other hand not give them a chance to separate.

MR KIRBY: Okay, I can’t speak for the likelihood of that --

QUESTION: What incentive do they have to separate, then?

MR KIRBY: I can’t speak for the likelihood that that proposal would work, and I’m not going to speculate about that.

QUESTION: I understand. But just – but on a more fundamental --

MR KIRBY: What needs to happen is the siege of Aleppo needs to stop.

QUESTION: I understand. But this goes – this is a very fundamental question of your one responsibility under this agreement – supposed agreement that is – you’re trying to get back on track – that you would separate Nusrah from the opposition. Now, if you separate them, where are these Nusrah people supposed to go? If you could get rid of them, maybe you could stop the ceasefire – you could stop the bombing, right?

MR KIRBY: Al-Nusrah has remained obviously an obstacle to peace in Syria.

QUESTION: Okay, so --

MR KIRBY: And that they are outside the cessation of hostilities we have long said, and we have talked to opposition groups – the ones that we influence – and we know that other countries who have influence over other groups have talked to them about the need to separate. We’ve also said that the siege itself – the continued bombing and violence perpetrated by Assad and by Russia – is having exactly the opposite effect. It’s actually encouraging more marbleization, if you will, by the continued violence. It’s not – it’s certainly not encouraging opposition groups to separate. It’s increasing – as I said, it’s increasing their fervor to fight.

QUESTION: But you’re not – I understand --

MR KIRBY: I’m not going to speculate about the likelihood of success or – out of the proposal that Mr. de Mistura put forward. We understand the frustration with which he made it and did it. We all share that frustration.

QUESTION: But how other --

MR KIRBY: And I can’t – I’m not going to – I can’t speculate about what ifs here.

QUESTION: I – but --

MR KIRBY: What I – what we want to see is the siege stop.

QUESTION: I understand you do. But again, you want to separate them. How do you propose that you do that? Where – how do – where – if they’re all in the city, what, are they supposed to go to the right bank of the city and --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR KIRBY: I’m not an expert in the geography there. What I would tell you is we continue to have conversations with the opposition about the importance of not being co-located with al-Nusrah, and that is a conversation we continue to have with them.

QUESTION: So you’re leaving this totally up to the opposition to separate themselves?

MR KIRBY: This is ultimately – and I’ve said this, Elise, these are decisions they have to make.

QUESTION: So basically you’re saying just get out of the way so that we can bomb them and --

MR KIRBY: They – these are decisions they have to make, and we’ve talked to them very honestly about that.

QUESTION: For instance, Idlib is a – the – is a --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: -- Al-Nusrah stronghold, Idlib. Would they be allowed safe passage to Idlib, for instance?

MR KIRBY: Said, I’m simply not going to get into detail --

QUESTION: You’re not really giving them a lot of incentive to separate themselves, are you? I mean --

MR KIRBY: It is the Russians and the Syrian – the regime which is certainly not giving any incentive to separate. In fact, quite the opposite by the continued bombing of civilian targets and of opposition elements.

QUESTION: Another subject?

QUESTION: I know you’ve talked about this before (inaudible) when the cessation of hostilities was announced about how these opposition forces are supposed to separate from Nusrah. But if they do so, they would be, they’d be ceding territory basically to whoever attacks al-Nusrah and takes that territory. So it seems like – I mean, not only is there not incentive for them to do it now, but it seems like there never was an incentive for them to do it.

MR KIRBY: I think you’d have to talk to each group about their – what they’d consider their incentives.

QUESTION: No, I’m talking to you because you guys came up – the Americans came up with this plan.

MR KIRBY: I recognize that you’re talking me, and what I’ve been saying and have said many, many times is that we have made the case to the opposition that being co-located with Nusrah, since Nusrah is outside the cessation of hostilities, is a dangerous endeavor, but these are choices they have to make. We also understand they’re not monoliths, even – not just in an aggregate but amongst themselves, and many of them have more radical views than others. Many of them make pragmatic decisions on their own about where they’re going to physically be located. Those are decisions that they have to make as groups and some of those individuals have to make as individuals. It doesn’t change the fact that we think it is important for them to separate themselves from al-Nusrah since al-Nusrah remains outside the cessation of hostilities – a cessation of hostilities, by the way, which we don’t have right now because the regime and Russia continues to bomb in Aleppo.

QUESTION: Which is kind of the point. You keep saying that “outside the cessation of hostilities,” but that’s – that animal is dead. It’s extinct.

MR KIRBY: I just said that.

QUESTION: I – yeah, I know. So what’s the point, then?

MR KIRBY: Well, we obviously want to get back to it.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR KIRBY: What I said was obviously it’s not enforced now, but that doesn’t violate the principle with which it was established back in February and the fact that we want to get back to it, Matt.

QUESTION: It was – in fact – when was it ever enforced?

MR KIRBY: There were times, and you know there were times. Especially in February, we had a significant reduction in the violence after it was first announced.

QUESTION: No, no, no, no, that’s people observing it. When was it enforced? Where were violations of the cessation, when it existed, ever – when was anyone ever held to account? It --

MR KIRBY: Well, by enforced I mean implemented. I recognize that there have been violations since it was first implemented, and there is – and up until recently we had a task force bilaterally with the Russians to examine and to monitor violations.

QUESTION: There hasn’t – hold on. Just – there hasn’t been any more contact between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov --

MR KIRBY: I don’t have any additional contact to read out.

Monsieur le Président,

1/. Que ce soit en Syrie, au Soudan du Sud, au Yémen, en Irak, en Afghanistan et ailleurs, les attaques contre les personnels de santé se sont multipliées depuis plusieurs années.

Le Conseil se devait d’agir et s’est donc saisi de cette question en adoptant à l’unanimité la résolution 2286 dont l’objectif est de renforcer rapidement la protection des personnels médicaux et des infrastructures de santé dans les zones de conflit.

Je souhaite saluer ici tout particulièrement la mobilisation des co-plumes sur cet enjeu essentiel.

Depuis l’adoption de cette résolution les attaques contre les personnels de santé se sont hélas poursuivies. Vous nous dites, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, qu’en Syrie, 11 hôpitaux ont été bombardés en août dernier – 3 à Alep, 4 à Idlib, 2 à Homs, 1 à Damas et 1 à Daraya – ces établissement sont désormais fermés. Depuis la mi-juillet, les huit hôpitaux encore fonctionnels dans l’est d’Alep ont tous été endommagés au moins une fois par des bombardements et des tirs d’obus ; quatre l’ont été à plusieurs reprises.

Aujourd’hui encore, les deux plus grands hôpitaux dans la partie est d’Alep ont été touchés par des frappes aériennes délibérées, les mettant temporairement hors de service. S’il ne s’agit pas de crimes de guerre, alors franchement je ne sais pas ce que sont des crimes de guerre. Le Secrétaire général, et je l’en remercie au nom de la France, a été particulièrement clair sur ce point.

Au Yémen, c’est l’hôpital d’Abs qui a été bombardé, le 15 août dernier, faisant 19 morts et 24 blessés, et obligeant MSF à évacuer son personnel.

Et je pourrais multiplier les exemples.

2/. Le Conseil, Monsieur le Président, doit assurer le suivi de ses propres décisions et a demandé dans cet esprit au Secrétaire général de lui présenter des recommandations concrètes pour la mise en œuvre de la résolution 2286.

La France salue le rapport du Secrétaire général et en soutient les principales recommandations.

De même, nous examinerons dans le meilleur esprit les propositions de M. Peter Maurer et de Mme Joanne Liu.

3/. Monsieur le Président, la multiplication des attaques contre les installations médicales et les personnels de santé nous rappelle que les principes d’humanité portés par le droit international humanitaire ont besoin à la fois d’être appliqués, d’être renforcés et d’être soutenus partout et en toutes circonstances. C’est un combat de tous les jours.

A cet égard, la France souhaite saisir cette occasion pour appeler les pays qui ne l’ont pas encore fait à ratifier les Protocoles additionnels des Conventions de Genève.

4/. Au-delà des attaques, l’obstruction aux soins de santé est de plus en plus utilisée par les parties aux conflits comme arme de guerre.

En Syrie, l’obstruction des autorités en matière de fourniture médicale se poursuit, en dépit des engagements pris : ainsi, plus de 8 000 kits ont été retirés des convois en août dernier. L’accès à l’assistance humanitaire, et en particulier aux produits médicaux doit être la norme, pas l’exception.

5/. Enfin, la protection des personnels médicaux ne peut être efficace sans lutte contre l’impunité. Les attaques contre les hôpitaux, les installations médicales ou encore les personnels de santé sont constitutifs de crimes de guerre. Les responsables doivent être poursuivis en justice.

Face à la multiplication des violations du droit international humanitaire et des droits de l’Homme, des enquêtes impartiales et indépendantes d’établissement des faits sont indispensables. C’est en effet cette exigence de vérité qui doit permettre de rassembler les membres du Conseil de sécurité autour d’une action efficace et résolue de ce Conseil.

La France, vous le savez, restera particulièrement vigilante et entièrement mobilisée sur cet enjeu, au sens propre, vital.

Merci Monsieur le Président,

Madame la Présidente Élisabeth Guigou,

Notre priorité absolue aujourd'hui en Syrie, c'est de tout faire pour mettre fin au déluge de violences qui submerge Alep. Ce qui est en train de se faire, par le régime et ses soutiens, c'est la logique de la guerre totale et c'est sans précédent dans ce conflit. Ce déchaînement de violences qui cible en particulier les hôpitaux, les personnels de santé, ce sont en effet des actes constitutifs de crimes de guerre, et leurs auteurs devront en répondre devant la justice internationale.

Comment y mettre un coup d'arrêt ? Certains préconisent un alignement total sur Moscou, au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme. D'autres, à l'inverse, estiment que nous devrions rompre avec la Russie. Aucune de ces deux options ne permettra de mettre fin au drame qui se déroule sous nos yeux. Ce que nous faisons, c'est mettre les Russes devant leurs responsabilités.

Au conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, nous sommes engagés pour négocier une résolution afin d'établir un cessez-le-feu, pour permettre aux populations civiles d'Alep de recevoir une aide humanitaire.

C'est vrai que la négociation est compliquée. Elle se poursuit en ce moment-même, le moment de vérité approche.

Sur le plan humanitaire, l'Union européenne a lancé une initiative. En lien avec les Nations unies, je me suis entretenu hier avec Mme Mogherini. Les moyens ont été réévalués et nous sommes prêts à soutenir des transports d'aide humanitaire, mais faut-il encore que les conditions de sécurité soient réunies à Alep, ce qui n'est pas le cas.

Aujourd'hui, les deux initiatives se rejoignent, ces deux pistes poursuivent le même objectif : mettre fin au martyre d'Alep.

Je le dis aux Russes, le sort de cette ville est entre vos mains et si vous vous obstinez, le drame d'Alep restera dans les mémoires comme une infamie, vous en porterez la responsabilité.

Quant aux casques blancs Madame la Présidente, vous avez raison de rendre hommage à ces hommes et à ces femmes qui sont d'un courage exemplaire./.

Q - Jean-Marc Ayrault, depuis maintenant plusieurs semaines, le monde assiste impuissant à ce qui se passe à Alep en Syrie avec des bombardements de l'aviation russe qui est pour le régime syrien de Bachar al-Assad. En quatre jours, plusieurs hôpitaux ont été bombardés ; on a appris il y a quelques minutes que le plus grand hôpital de la partie Est de cette ville n'était désormais plus fonctionnel. Vous vous êtes beaucoup prononcé sur cette question, vous avez eu des mots très forts, mais au-delà des mots et de l'indignation, que peut faire la France ?

R - La France, elle est engagée je dirais presque en première ligne pour obtenir du conseil de sécurité des Nations unies une résolution pour créer les conditions d'un cessez-le-feu en Syrie et d'abord à Alep. À Alep, il y a une urgence humanitaire et je n'ai même pas besoin de vous décrire la situation - vous venez de le dire en quelques mots - mais les images terribles que nous voyons à la télévision parlent d'elles-mêmes. Que voyons-nous ? Nous voyons des victimes civiles et quand j'entends, encore cet après-midi, un communiqué officiel de la Russie qui se félicite de l'efficacité des frappes russes sur Alep en faisant croire que ceux qui sont visés par ces frappes, ce sont essentiellement des terroristes... Mais, les images que nous voyons, ce sont des populations civiles, ce sont des hommes, des femmes, des enfants, des personnes âgées qui sont tués, qui sont mutilés.

Q - Mais que faut-il faire concrètement Jean-Marc Ayrault ?

R - Il faut vraiment appeler à la conscience de tous les membres du conseil de sécurité, les membres permanents comme les dix autres membres. Nous sommes actuellement en train de négocier une résolution et j'espère que nous pourrons obtenir un résultat cette semaine.

Q - Mais que dit cette résolution ? Une trêve ?

R - Un cessez-le-feu...

Q - On en a déjà eu....

R - Oui, mais un cessez-le-feu d'abord sur Alep avec également un accès de l'aide humanitaire. C'est le préalable à tout et ensuite reprise des négociations politiques. Le résultat dépend de nos partenaires et en particulier de la Russie et j'appelle cette dernière à prendre ses responsabilités. Aujourd'hui -  le secrétaire général des Nations unies l'a dit lui-même -, les bombardements des hôpitaux sont des crimes de guerre. Est-ce que la Russie acceptera de porter la responsabilité de tels actes qui sont insupportables du point de vue de la conscience humaine ? Cela c'est vraiment l'urgence.

Alors s'agissant de l'aide humanitaire, l'Union européenne joue aussi son rôle. J'ai eu un entretien cet après-midi avec la Haute représentante, Mme Federica Mogherini et l'Union européenne va débloquer 25 millions d'euros supplémentaires et veut contribuer à l'organisation des convois pour qu'ils puissent, le plus vite possible, traverser la frontière turque et se rendre à Alep.

Il y a urgence, cela fait des mois qu'il n'y a plus d'aide alors que des gens meurent de faim. Il y a des gens formidables en Syrie dont on ne parle pas assez et en particulier à Alep, ce sont les organisations non gouvernementales, tous ces professionnels de l'humanitaire et vous avez parlé des hôpitaux, de ces médecins, de ces infirmiers et aussi des Casques blancs. Ces Casques blancs sont des gens extraordinaires. Alors ils ont été qualifiés de terroristes par le régime de Bachar al-Assad et par les Russes... C'est un scandale.0++-0

Je crois qu'il faut arrêter le cynisme ; le cynisme n'est plus supportable et ceux qui ferment les yeux ou ceux qui sont complaisants à l'égard du régime de Bachar al-Assad et de ce qui est en train d'être fait avec le soutien de la Russie et de l'Iran, porteront une responsabilité pour l'avenir. Et la France veut être en première ligne pour obtenir le plus vite possible ce cessez-le-feu.

Q - La Russie mettra sans doute son veto...

R - Je ne l'espère pas... Nous, nous négocions, nous avons fait les propositions d'un texte, encore ce week-end, qui sera discuté ce soir au conseil de sécurité - avec le décalage horaire - et on verra bien. En tout cas, je mets en garde la Russie de ne pas prendre cette responsabilité de ne pas donner une nouvelle chance au cessez-le-feu, c'est-à-dire au fond un acte d'abord humanitaire qui est indispensable parce que notre conscience est profondément meurtrie. Tous ceux qui croient aux droits de l'Homme, tous ceux qui croient à la paix, tous ceux qui croient à la fraternité, ne peuvent pas supporter ces images aussi terribles.

25/09/2016

Thank you Madam President for convening this emergency meeting today at UK, US, and French request. I join others in thanking Special Envoy Steffan de Mistura for his briefing and for his relentless stamina.

The Asad regime and Russia are reducing Aleppo to rubble. Aleppo’s inhabitants are ordinary Syrians who have suffered so much for so long. They are now facing an unprecedented, unrelenting onslaught of cruelty. And it is increasingly clear that it is an onslaught beyond the capabilities of the Syrian air force alone.

After 5 years of conflict, you might think that the regime has had its fill of barbarity … that its sick blood lust against its own people has finally run its course.

But this weekend, the regime and Russia have instead plunged to new depths and unleashed a new hell on Aleppo.

Bunker-busting bombs, more suited to destroying military installations, are now destroying homes, decimating bomb shelters, crippling, maiming, killing dozens, if not hundreds.

Incendiary munitions, indiscriminate in their reach, are being dropped onto civilian areas so that, yet again, Aleppo is burning.

And to cap it all, water supplies, so vital to millions, are now being targeted, depriving water to those most in need.

In short, it is difficult to deny, that Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes.

Yet only 4 days ago, we heard Foreign Minister Lavrov speak, right here, of Russia’s commitment to a political, peaceful solution… of Russia’s commitment to the cessation of hostilities.

Today, that commitment resembles much of Syria: broken, lifeless.

The true meaning of that commitment can be seen on the ashen faces of the victims of Aleppo. On the faces of a mother clutching her child, crushed beneath the rubble. On the faces of the White Helmets and medics, injured or killed, as they try desperately to save lives. On the faces of every single man, woman and child who still calls Aleppo home. As the Secretary-General said, these are dark days for the protection of civilians.

These devastating events underscore what we have known for so long. Russia needs to be salvaging, not stymieing, efforts to restore the cessation of hostilities. Russia needs to be enabling, not attacking, unfettered humanitarian assistance. And ultimately Russia should be creating, not destroying, the conditions necessary for the resumption of political talks.

If it does not take these steps, and more, Russia will only confirm its status as an international pariah. But in truth, as the horrific, unconscionable attack on the humanitarian convoy last week painfully illustrated, Russia simply has no credibility left on these issues.

Now Russia will no doubt try to deflect attention away from the crimes it is committing in Syria by blaming the opposition and talking a great deal about the threat from terrorism. But everyone in this chamber agrees that Daesh and Al Nusra are terrorists and must be defeated. That is not the question.

But Russia and the regime are not bombing terrorists. They are bombing all forms of opposition and killing hundreds every month. They collaborate with sectarian Shia militias and with Hizbollah - a terrorist organisation in the eyes of many members of this Council and the Arab League – to inflict their own terror against Syria’s civilian population.

Let us not forget that Asad’s regime, supported by Russia, have killed far more civilians in Syria than Daesh and Al Nusra put together. So every time we rightly condemn Daesh and Al Nusra terrorism in Syria, let us also condemn the absolute terror being inflicted on the Syrian people by the Asad regime and by Russia, as they continue to bomb Syrian civilians day and night.

Because the Syrian people will never forget the death and destruction that the sectarian Asad regime has unleashed upon them. Nor will they forget that Russia aided and abetted this ruthless sectarian dictator in waging war against his own people. They also won’t forget that the international community, and this Security Council in particular, failed to stop the bombing, failed to stop the chlorine, and failed to stop the starvation.

So let us be clear. It is Russia’s actions in Syria and in this Council that have caused that failure; it is Russia’s actions that have prolonged the conflict, prolonged the suffering. It is Russia’s four vetoes in the past 5 years that have prevented Council unity and brought shame on us all, and brought their diplomacy into disrepute.

So this Council must now do more than demand or urge. We must now decide. What can we do to enforce an immediate end to the bombardment of Aleppo and other civilian areas in Syria. We must decide what we can do now to end the sieges, to end the chokehold that is preventing aid getting in. And in doing so, we must speak loudly and clearly that there will be accountability for these crimes and so many more – including the barbaric, despicable use of chemical weapons by the regime against its own people.

That is the only way to stop the suffering. And it is the only way for Russia to atone for its deplorable actions in Syria.

Commentaires

Portrait de Pr. Philippe WECKEL

Le Président Poutine se rendra le 19 octobre prochain à Paris pour y inaugurer le nouveau "centre spirituel" (lieu de culte) orthodoxe. Les cinq dômes dorés du nouvel édifice religieux dominant Paris devraient servir la politique de prestige que l'Etat russe veut pour la fédération russe de l'Eglise orthodoxe (l'une des 14 fédérations de cette église). 

En raison de son objet, ce déplacement ne peut être traité comme une visite officielle d'un chef d'Etat étranger. Le principe de la laïcité  impose en effet de lui appliquer le protocole des visites privées qui n'exclut pas un accueil de ce Chef d'Etat au Palais de l'Elysée, siège de la présidence de la République française, pour  une réunion de travail. La question qui se pose et que soulève la diplomatie française est de savoir quel peut être l'objet de cette rencontre non protocolaire dans le contexte actuel :

QUOTIDIEN : vous allez recevoir prochainement Vladimir Poutine à Paris mais on a l'impression que les russes et Bachar el Assad sont insensibles à vos pressions. Qu'ils vont continuer quoiqu'il arrive leur action à Alep. Finalement est ce qu'aujourd'hui vous ne parlez pas dans le vide ? 

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE  : je vais recevoir sans doute Vladimir Poutine. Je me suis posé la question. 

QUOTIDIEN : c'est pas sûr ? 

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE : je me suis posé la question. Est ce que c'est utile ? Est ce que c'est nécessaire ? Est ce que ça peut être une pression ? Est ce que nous pouvons encore faire en sorte qu'il puisse lui aussi arrêter ce qu'il commet avec le régime syrien ? C'est à dire l'appui aux forces du régime qui envoie des bombes sur la population d'Alep. Donc j'aurai à recevoir, je me pose encore la question, Vladimir Poutine. Si je le reçois je lui dirai que c'est inacceptable. Que c'est grave même pour l'image de la Russie. 

Il reste à déterminer concrètement quelle est l'utilité pour l'action diplomatique de la France, le résultat que l'on peut attendre, d'une rencontre à l'occasion d'un déplacement du Président Poutine dont l'objet est exclusivement de servir les intérêts nationaux russes. A moins d'un geste d'ouverture du Président russe sur le dossier syrien, il est vraisemblable que l'Elysée ne confirmera pas cette rencontre envisagée de longue date. Ce qui s'apparente à un incident diplomatique confirme la volonté des Etats européens et occidentaux  de mettre fin à la vacuité des discussions avec la Russie en invitant cette dernière à leur donner un contenu réel. Le "ça suffit !" lancé à la tribune des Nations unies est ici complété par un "est-ce que c'est utile ?". On remarque que les communications téléphoniques avec le Kremlin ont pratiquement cessé, parce qu'elle s'avèrent inutiles : elles débouchent systématiquement sur deux communiqués divergents qui ne font absolument pas progresser les dossiers. Parler ? Bien sûr, mais de quoi et pourquoi, si l'on est pas entendu ?

La Russie a finalement décidé de reporter cette visite. L'église orthodoxe attendra des jours meilleurs.

On rappelle qu'il y a actuellement de sérieux dossiers en souffrance dans les relations américano-russes. On songe au traité Pershing notamment. Quel sens  prête la diplomatie russe au mot "partenaire" dont elle use à satiété ?

 

 

Professeur à l'Université de Nice

Portrait de Pr. Philippe WECKEL

Le ministre français des affaires étrangères a évoqué la possibilité d'une enquête ouverte par le Procureur de la Cour pénale internationale sur la situation en Syrie.

En l'absence de défèrement de la situation par une résolution du Conseil de sécurité la CPI n'est pas compétente. La Procureure peut-elle néanmoins ouvrir une enquête préalable débouchant finalement sur une communication au Conseil de sécurité et invitant ce dernier à exercer ses responsabilités ?
Actuellement une enquête judiciaire conjointe est menée sur la destruction du MH17, alors même que le choix du tribunal compétent n'est pas encore tranché. On peut y voir un précédent allant dans le sens de la suggestion française. Bien entendu la CPI est indépendante.
  

 

Professeur à l'Université de Nice