General Assembly Security Council

UNSC briefing/consultations on Syria [Political/Humanitarian]

[28 April 2021; 1000 hrs]



Remarks  by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations



Let me begin by thanking Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen and USG Mark Lowcock for their comprehensive briefings today.


2. The political track has not seen any major development since our last discussions. The Special Envoy has continued engagement with all important stakeholders to push for an early convening of the sixth meeting of the drafting body of the Syrian constitutional committee. The outcome of this meeting will be crucial for the credibility of the political process. It is therefore important that all three groups have a clear understanding on the procedure and the topics.  In this regard, we welcome the proposals of the Special Envoy. We hope that all three sides will cooperate with the Special Envoy to agree to the modalities of the next meeting. An agreement on the procedure to be followed in the meeting is necessary.


3. As we have said before, the Syrian conflict is both deeply politicized and internationalized. We have major foreign powers involved with stakes in the conflict. We also have several independent parallel political tracks. We welcome these parallel initiatives, while underscoring the centrality of the UN led political process. The parallel tracks must feed into the UN led political process. In this regard, we support the engagement of Special Envoy with all stakeholders.


4. For the UN led political track to move forward, we need cooperation among all major stakeholders to the conflict. Constructive international diplomacy is the need of the hour to bridge existing divides by focusing on mutual and reciprocal steps. This has become difficult to achieve in the current context, since there does not seem to be any degree of understanding among the major stakeholders. We would like to underline again that there cannot be externally imposed solutions to the conflict. The polarization has only hardened the resolve of all sides, which seem to be acting at cross purposes.  We believe there has to be unity of purpose focusing on helping the people of Syria. If we are serious about achieving progress, we need to have greater convergence of views and act to strengthen the hands of the Special Envoy. If we don’t act now to save the UN led political process, this process may become marginalised.


5. The Syrian conflict and the division between the stakeholders has been taken advantage of by terrorists and this has contributed to the rise of terrorism in Syria and in its neighboring countries. The latest report of the Secretary General dwells on the threat posed by ISIL.  We express our serious concern over increased terrorist activity on the Syrian soil. Further, it is a matter of deep concern for all that the mercenaries are finding their way into other conflict zones, including in Africa. This needs to be addressed with a high degree of seriousness. It is imperative that all parties adhere to their international obligations to fight terrorism and terrorist organizations in Syria, as designated by the Security Council.


6. India firmly believes that long-term security and stability in this region can only be achieved by preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We also remain convinced that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and reaffirm our commitment to advancing a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned UN-facilitated political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.


7.  Today’s briefing has again highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in Syria. The decade-long conflict has had a devastating effect on the people of Syria. We are deeply concerned at the alarming statistics provided at the OCHA briefing last week. An estimated half-million people have died, millions have been displaced, both internally and externally, the health infrastructure has collapsed, and children have been deprived of basic education. Women, children and youth have especially been deeply impacted. The Covid-19 pandemic has further aggravated the humanitarian situation. The economic crisis in Syria has pushed its people to the brink of a disaster. We hope that the announcements made at the Brussels V Donors Conference last month will bring some respite to the affected population.


8. Let me reiterate again, there is an urgent need to increase humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination or politicization or any preconditions.


9. What we need immediately is an active engagement that is both consistent with Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as addresses the urgency of the humanitarian issues to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. There is also an urgent need for concrete steps to address hurdles that are obstructing the functioning of both cross-border and cross-line operations, in particular, the delays in granting requisite approvals to humanitarian aid convoys. We need both sides to make this happen.


10. As we have mentioned in our earlier statements on Syria, India has extended developmental assistance and human resource development support to Syria regularly. These include lines of credits for developmental projects, supply of medicine and food, artificial limb fitment camps and capacity building training programs for Syrian nationals. Recently, Syria also received a consignment of India’s COVID-19 vaccines. We reiterate our steadfast commitment to continue these initiatives, in support of the people of Syria. I thank you.