Explanation of vote by Ambassador Wittig on UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria

Oct 4, 2011

(as delivered)

Madam President,

Since the beginning of this year, we witness tremendous change in the Arab world. We see how peaceful demonstrators express their desire for freedom, dignity and self-determination. We are impressed by the courage of the people and their readiness for sacrifice – in spite of oppression and authoritarian rule. Throughout the region, we commend all those who continue to express their legitimate aspirations in a peaceful manner – and we are appalled by those who so brutally repress their own people.

The Syrian security forces, military and militias have violently and indiscriminately crushed down on demonstrations that were overwhelmingly peaceful. Syrians from all segments of society were demanding their basic rights. Their aspirations were met with tanks, bullets and mass arrests, as well as murder, enforced disappearance, torture, deprivation of liberty, and persecution.

We mourn the victims and have profound respect for the hundreds of thousands Syrians who put their lives at risk to achieve a better future for themselves and for their children. Thousands are still under arrest, in many cases without contact to their families. We urge the Syrian leadership to release all political prisoners and detained political demonstrators immediately!

Madam President,

For months now, the International Community has called on the Syrian authorities to end all violence, to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under international law: the Security Council, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, the European Union and many many States and Governments individually. Not a single of those appeals was heeded by the Syrian regime – on the contrary, the violent repression continued unabated.

Madam President,

the Council today finally had a chance to decide that the actions by the Syrian leadership will not go unanswered. We sincerely regret that members of the Council could not find a common voice to appropriately address the grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities.

The stakes are high: if the repression of the Syrian regime does not stop, the country will move closer to the brink of civil war. Regional stability is at risk. International peace and security are threatened. This is not the time and the place for a mere “wait and see approach”, but for actively engaging towards more stability.

Madam President,

Today, the Council failed to live up to its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations: the maintenance of international peace and security. But let me be very clear: Germany would have wished for a stronger resolution at a much earlier stage.

For the sake of a unified signal by the Council, Germany and its partners were eagerly working towards a compromise among Council members in recent weeks. We made substantial concessions in order to gain the support of this Council. We are deeply disappointed that some Council members did not find themselves in a position to reach a compromise, two of them using their veto power.

Madam President,

This should not, however, spoil the message already sent by a large segment of the international community. We do not want to stand idly by while atrocities are being committed: The aspirations of the Syrian people cannot be answered by tanks, bullets and torture. Not only will members of the regime be held accountable for their deeds. But they also have to understand that the only viable option for the future of Syria is through a meaningful Syrian-led, political process.

While we encourage political dialogue, we will continue - it need be - to push for sanctions against those who brutally repress their people and threaten international peace and stability. We will do so within the framework of the United Nations, the European Union and bilaterally.

The people in Syria and the Arab world should know: Germany, its partners and all those who cherish the values of freedom, dignity and self-determination will not relent in their efforts to stand by them.

© GermanyUN