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U.S. Envoy Rice on U.N. Supervisory Mission in Syria
April 23, 2012

Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

After the Adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2043 on Syria, April 21, 2012

U.S. Mission to the United Nations,
April 21, 2012

As delivered

The United States has voted in favor of resolution 2043 authorizing the establishment of a UN supervision mission in Syria, but we are sober about the risks, all the more so given the Assad regime’s long record of broken promises, deceit and disregard for the most basic standards of humanity.

The Syrian people, like us, know that the deployment of 300 or even 3,000 unarmed observers cannot, on its own, stop the Assad regime from waging its barbaric campaign of violence against the Syrian people. What can bring a halt to this murderous rampage is continued and intensified external pressure on the Assad regime. The Syrian opposition has said that it welcomes the deployment of the UN military observers and additional human rights and other civilian monitors, because they will be impartial eyes and ears on the ground to bear witness to the Syrian government’s flagrant and persistent violations of its commitments. Even more so, the Syrian people expect — and they deserve — that this Council will stand behind today’s resolution and ensure that swift and meaningful consequences are imposed should the regime continue to flout its obligations.

Since the adoption of resolution 2042, exactly a week ago, in which this Council unanimously called on the Syrian government to honor all its obligations, including a sustained cessation of violence, the regime has unleashed yet another wave of horrific violence against its own people resulting in the deaths of scores of Syrians daily. The government’s use of shelling and heavy weaponry, in particular in Homs, has reached levels that surpass those before the ceasefire. Syrian government troops and armor have not been withdrawn from cities and returned to barracks. Protesters are still being intimidated and murdered by government forces. The status of thousands of detainees remains unclear. And precious little progress had been made on the issue of humanitarian access, with an estimated one million civilians still in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations Security Council has called upon the government to take concrete actions. The Syrian government has ignored this Council. In the United States, our patience is exhausted.

Let me be plain. No one should assume that the United States will agree to renew this mission at the end of 90 days. If there is not a sustained cessation of violence, full freedom of movement for UN personnel and rapid meaningful progress on all other aspects of the six-point plan, then we must all conclude that this mission has run its course. We will not wait 90 days to pursue measures against the Syrian government, if it continues to violate its commitments or obstruct the monitors’ work.

We express our deep gratitude to the monitors who are now embarking on this unprecedented and risky mission. We should be under no illusions. They are going to be dependent for security on the very government which is responsible for the main security threats. They are going to be deployed in the midst of protesters who are desperate for a protection that the monitors are not equipped or mandated to provide. And they will be deployed in numbers too small to cover the entire country but large enough to give rise to expectations that will be impossible to meet, if the Syrian government does not fulfill its commitments towards a sustained cessation of violence.

All our experience with UN peacekeeping over the last 65 years teaches us that such missions require there to be a peace to keep, in order to succeed. The opposition has said they want and need this mission, hoping that the presence of these monitors will have a restraining effect on the Syrian government and help uphold the rights of the Syrian people to assemble and express themselves freely. If that hope does not materialize, however, the failure shall be the Syrian government’s, and it must be held accountable. And we must be prepared to do so, given the Assad regime’s track record to date.

The United States strongly supports full implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan. Yet, let there be no doubt: we, our allies and others in this body are planning and preparing for those actions that will be required of us all, if the Assad regime persists in the slaughter of the Syrian people.