Remarks at the United Nations Security Council Meeting on Syria

Remarks at the United Nations Security Council Meeting on Syria

SECRETARY KERRY: Mr. Secretary-General, Special
Envoy de Mistura, distinguished colleagues, I want to begin by thanking the other P4 members
who joined together to help fashion this resolution and who spent time this morning working with
our colleagues in order to bring us here this afternoon, plus our non-P4 member, Germany, for whom we are very grateful for their participation also. I want to thank all the members of the council
for coming together at this late hour. And I thank you in particular, Secretary-General
Ban and Special Envoy de Mistura, for your leadership and your commitment. I also want to thank Foreign Minster Lavrov
for his collaboration and his efforts over the course of both Vienna conferences
to produce the two Vienna communiques that are integrated into this resolution
here today. By approving Resolution 2254 today, this council is sending a clear message
to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in
Syria and lay the groundwork for a government that the long-suffering people of that battered
land can support. After four and a half years of war, this is the first time we have been
able to come together at the United Nations in the Security Council to embrace a road
forward. During that time, one Syrian in 20 has been killed or wounded; one in five is
a refugee; one in two has been displaced. The average life expectancy in Syria has dropped
by 20 years. We need to reverse the course, and that is
the council’s goal here this afternoon: to put an end to the indiscriminate bombing,
the acts of terror, the torture, and the bloodshed. And our shared task is to find a way to make
that happen. In support of this objective, President Obama
has set for my country three interrelated goals. The first is to support our friends
and to ensure that the instability created by the civil war in Syria does not spread
further beyond its borders. And that is why we’re providing a record amount of humanitarian
assistance, and it’s why we’re doing more to help Syria’s neighbors, to strengthen
their capacity to safeguard their territory and to defend against external threats. Second, we are determined, with our coalitional
partners, to degrade and defeat the terrorist organization known as Daesh. In the past half
year, the coalition and its partners have worked with Iraqi forces in liberating Tikrit,
freeing Sinjar, removing terrorist commanders from the battlefield, cutting off terrorist
supply lines, hitting their oil facilities, and depriving Daesh of more and more of the
territory that it once controlled. Now we are intensifying the pressure, helping
our Iraqi partners retake most of Ramadi to squeeze supply routes into Mosul. And we are
pushing ahead into northern Syria, assisting our partners along the Iraqi-Syrian border
and on the recruiting and propaganda efforts. Further, as evidenced by the finance ministerial
that was held right here in this very chamber yesterday, we are multiplying our efforts
to cut Daesh off from the revenue sources that support its depravity, its criminality. But the truth is that nothing would do more
to bolster the fight against the terrorists than a broadly supported diplomatic process
that gives the Syrian people a real choice – not a choice between Assad or Daesh, but
between war and peace, between the violent extremes and a newly empowered political center.
That is why we have joined with so many of you in support of an urgent diplomatic initiative.
Again and again, countries not just around this dais today, but countless meetings in
various parts of the world have reaffirmed the notion that there has to be a political
settlement. Well, this is the test. This is why we’ve
joined here in a broader, more action-oriented effort than ever before attempted regarding
Syria: to isolate the terrorists and to put Syria on the road to a political transition,
envisioned by the Geneva communique, now embraced by the international community and the United
Nations Security Council resolution. As the council’s action today reflects,
we have made important progress in recent weeks, and progress that should give us all
fresh grounds for encouragement. Last month in Vienna, the United States and other members
of the International Syria Support Group agreed on a series of steps to stop the bleeding
in Syria, to advance a political transition, to isolate the terrorists, and to help the
Syrian people to be able to begin to rebuild their country. Last week in Riyadh, with the
support of His Majesty King Salman and his government, a broad cross-section of Syrian
opposition representatives came together to form a high committee for negotiation. Under the resolution approved today, the purpose
of those negotiations between the responsible opposition and the government is to facilitate
a transition within Syria to a credible, inclusive, nonsectarian governance within six months.
The process would lead to the drafting of a new constitution and arrangements for internationally
supervised election within 18 months. I might add Geneva never had those dates. It is the
Vienna process and the Vienna communique that has produced a six-month and 18-month time
horizon, and it is the Vienna process that also has embraced the ceasefire concept as
well as embraced a set of principles and values about the shape that a new Syria might be
able to take as directed by Syrians for Syrians. It’s our hope that a nationwide ceasefire
can go into effect, excluding only Daesh and al-Nusrah and any other group that we might
decide at some time to designate. So I would close by saying we’re under no
illusions about the obstacles that exist. There obviously remain sharp differences within
the international community, especially about the future of President Assad. We have emphasized
from the beginning that for this to work, the process has to be led and shaped and decided
and implemented by the men and women of Syria. It cannot be imposed from the outside and
we are not seeking to do so. But we’ve also seen in recent weeks – in Vienna, in Paris,
and in other capitals, and then today here in New York – an unprecedented degree of
unity on the need to negotiate this political transition to defeat Daesh, and then, indeed,
to end the war. The resolution that we just approved is a
milestone because it sets out specific concepts with specific timeframes. Accordingly, we
need to work hard together to help these political talks to go forward, to prepare for a ceasefire,
and to encourage all the parties in Syria to participate in good faith. In closing, let me just underscore the urgency
of our task. Like many of you, I’ve met with refugees in and out of refugee camps.
I’ve met with survivors, as you have; met with caregivers, as you have; met with many
of the people who have been on the front lines of this conflict. I’ve talked to women who
have struggled to hold their families together despite constant danger, bitter cold, shortages
of food, and great danger. I’ve heard the blood-chilling stories of doctors and relief
workers who have been dealing with humanitarian trauma on a daily basis, month after month,
year after year – now into the fifth year. I am aware, as everybody in this chamber is,
of the atrocities that have been committed and are being committed even as we sit here
this afternoon, and being committed too often against innocent civilians. Looking ahead, we know that Daesh can never
be allowed to gain control in Syria. So we have a global imperative here to deal with
a terrorist entity, but also to end the civil war and to bring legitimacy back to the governance
of Syria. President Assad, in our judgment – and not everybody shares this – but
the majority of the people in the ISSG believe that President Assad has lost the ability,
the credibility, to be able to unite the country and to provide the moral credibility to be
able to govern it into the future. So I’d just say, not as a matter of ideology,
not as a matter of choice, but purely as a matter of reality, as a matter of fact given
the situation on the ground, that if the war is to end, it is imperative that the Syrian
people agree on an alternative in terms of their governance. That logic is compelling
and it provides a unifying principle for most people in our efforts going forward. We have a lot of distance to travel – some
would say miles to go. But the truth is that in the past two months, we have started from
a standstill, from a nonexistent process, to have three separate meetings of the ISSG
and now a United Nations Security Council embrace of a process. We have agreed on a
plan of action, and the council’s vote today is an important boost on the road to a political
settlement. It is a particularly important step because it reaffirms this body’s endorsement
of the Geneva communique about the transitional governing body with full executive authority,
and it also endorses the progress and the statements that we made in Vienna to set a
timeline – a timeline for transition, a timeline for election, and standards for that
election – the highest standards under the supervision of the United Nations for a free,
fair, transparent, and accountable election. It also brings fundamental values and principles
that can guide the shaping of Syria by Syrians for Syrians. So let us proceed with confidence from here
and a determination to end this war, eliminate the terrorist threat, and enable the people
of Syria to return safely to their homes. I now resume my function as president of the
council and I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Sergey Lavrov, minister of foreign affairs
of the Russian Federation.


  1. In other words; No Putin; you can not have the Middle East so you can support your U.S.S.R. Communist agenda. Putin went from a KGB agent to the richest man in Russia all wile the Russian people get poorer by the day. Here in the U.S. we seen this when Putin first took office.

  2. Without Assad's requesting assistance, US operations in Syria are pretty illegal according to the law. And people who break the law are criminals, not any better than the terrorists. Either you are with the law or against it. Assad is still the President. And this here is clearly against the law.

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