The Security Council today renewed the authorization for cross‑border and cross‑conflict‑line humanitarian access to Syria for a further 12 months, until 10 January 2019.
Adopting resolution 2393 (2017) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Bolivia, China, Russian Federation), the Council extended the authorization — first established by resolution 2165 (2014) — for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners to use four border crossings. The extension also included the use of routes between areas under control by different groups in the conflict, following notification to Syrian authorities.
By the text, the Council requested the Syrian authorities to expeditiously respond to all requests for cross‑line deliveries by the humanitarian partners. It reiterated its demand that the authorities and all parties comply with their obligations under humanitarian law to allow aid access, recalling that some of the violations in Syria could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It also requested the Secretary‑General to conduct, within six months, a review of the cross‑border operations that included recommendations on how to further strengthen the monitoring mechanism, taking into account the views of relevant parties, including the Syrian authorities, neighbouring counties and the humanitarian partners.
While welcoming the adoption, Council members also expressed reservations. Most voiced their deep concern over the continuing humanitarian tragedy in Syria and stressed that, even with improved access, the suffering would not end until a Syrian‑led political solution was found through full participation of all parties in the Geneva process shepherded by the United Nations.
Olof Skoog (Sweden), who co‑sponsored the resolution with Egypt, pointed out that there were no alternative means to access parts of northern and southern Syria. Renewing the authorization would no doubt save lives and alleviate suffering. However, the humanitarian situation remained devastating. For over six years, the world had failed the Syrian people. The humanitarian situation would continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution.
Wu Haitao (China), explaining his abstention, said that while his country remained deeply concerned over the humanitarian situation, aid operations must change with the situation on the ground and must abide by United Nations humanitarian principles. Cross‑border operations must be carried out in strict observance of the principles of national sovereignty and unity and with full participation of national authorities. He had worked hard on the draft in order to improve aid delivery in the country, he noted, but added that not enough time had been allowed to improve the draft and to reach consensus.
Similarly, Pedro Luis Inchauste Jordán (Bolivia) said the situation had changed with the establishment of de‑escalation zones. Yet, the text did not reflect those changes. Adequate provision for the full transparency of the Monitoring Mechanism was also lacking.
Vladimir K. Safronkov (Russian Federation) stressed that the authorization was meant to be a temporary measure that necessarily impinged on Syrian sovereignty and was meant to reach all Syrians across the country. Unfortunately, the location and means of distributions were often controlled by non‑governmental organizations. While aid delivery authorized by the resolution remained critical, many of his reservations had not been met, and many questions remained unanswered, he said. Better monitoring and consultation were among the measures needed to remediate those problems. All information on deliveries should be shared with the Council, and a transition to more traditional means of providing assistance in coordination with the Syrian authorities should gradually end the cross‑border schemes as the situation on the ground changed.
Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan), welcoming the compromises that had been achieved in the text, said he agreed that cross‑border assistance was critical for the survival of the Syrian population. It was for that reason he had voted in favour. He urged strong monitoring, however, of the transport involved and called for concerted efforts by the Security Council to end the conflict.
Echoing his counterpart’s stance, Fodé Seck (Senegal) too said that the monitoring mechanism could be improved. Nonetheless, renewing the authorization was critical for saving lives and could not be delayed.
Michele J. Sison (United States) welcomed the adoption without reservations. She argued that 17,000 aid deliveries, all vetted by the monitoring mechanism, had already been made possible by the authorization and had saved many lives.
François Delattre (France) said that the renewal was vital in every sense of the word. For millions of Syrian people it was a matter of life or death. He added that he had not agreed with all amendments that had been made to the text. However, those did not change the resolution’s efficacy. He also highlighted the suffering in Ghouta, where the regime was starving the population for strategic purposes.
Matthew John Rycroft (United Kingdom), stating that the renewal gave Syrians a small ray of hope, pointed out that the number of people in serious need in the country had risen to 13 million because of the lack of progress in the peace process and the blockades by the Syrian regime. He called on the Russian Federation to use its influence on that regime to alleviate the situation. The renewal was a strong reminder that aid must not be used as a weapon, he emphasized.
Inigo Lambertini (Italy), welcoming the extension, stressed the importance of the predictability of aid. Still, he would have liked the resolution to address the failure of cross‑line assistance in providing urgent aid to areas such as Ghouta, he stated.
Yuriy Vitrenko (Ukraine), also welcoming the adoption, joined fellow Council members in affirming that cross‑border delivery was a matter of life and death. However, he voiced his regret that the humanitarian situation had not improved in the past year because of continued lack of access in areas such as eastern Ghouta.
Tekeda Alemu (Ethiopia) expressed his appreciation for the extensive consultations on the text. The result had addressed all concerns. Humanitarian suffering should continue to be at the centre of the Council’s attention in Syria, with accelerated efforts to bring about a political solution to the conflict, he underscored.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:56 a.m.
The full text of resolution 2393 (2017) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015), 2268 (2016), 2286 (2016), 2332 (2016) and 2336 (2016), and its presidential statements of 3 August 2011 (document S/PRST/2011/16), 21 March 2012 (document S/PRST/2012/6), 5 April 2012 (document S/PRST/2012/10), 2 October 2013 (document S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (document S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (document S/PRST/2015/15),
“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,
“Expressing outrage at the unacceptable level of violence and the killing of well over a quarter of a million people, including tens of thousands of child casualties, as a result of the Syrian conflict,
“Gravely distressed by the continued severity of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria, and by the fact that urgent humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance, is now required by more than 13.1 million people in Syria, of whom 6.1 million are internally displaced, 2.9 million are living in hard‑to‑reach areas, including Palestinian refugees, and hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in besieged areas,
“Gravely concerned at the insufficient implementation of its resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (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,
“Noting the progress made during 2017 in taking back areas of Syria from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh), and Al‑Nusrah Front (ANF) but expressing its grave concern that areas remain under their control and about the negative impact of their presence, violent extremist ideology and actions on stability in Syria and the region, including the devastating humanitarian impact on the civilian populations which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, reaffirming its resolve to address all aspects of the threat posed by ISIL (also known as Daesh), ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al‑Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as determined by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, and calling for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2249 (2015), 2253 (2015), and 2347 (2017),
“Expressing grave concern also at the movement of foreign terrorist fighters and other terrorists and terrorist groups into and out of Syria and reiterating its call on all States to take steps, consistent with international law, to prevent and suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to ISIL, ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with ISIL or Al‑Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as determined by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the ISSG and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council,
“Reaffirming the primary responsibility of the Syrian authorities to protect the population in Syria and, reiterating that parties to armed conflict must take all feasible steps to protect civilians, and recalling in this regard its demand that all parties to armed conflict comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel,
“Strongly condemning the arbitrary detention and torture of individuals in Syria, notably in prisons and detention facilities, as well as the kidnappings, abductions, hostage‑taking and forced disappearances, and demanding the immediate end of these practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons starting with women and children, as well as sick, wounded and elderly people and United Nations and humanitarian personnel and journalists,
“Reiterating its strong condemnation of all forms of violence and intimidation to which those participating in humanitarian operations are increasingly exposed, as well as attacks on humanitarian convoys and acts of destruction and looting of their assets, and its urging of all parties involved in an armed conflict to promote the safety, security and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel, including medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, and United Nations and its associated personnel and their assets, expressing its ongoing admiration at the dedication and commitment of the Syrian Red Crescent volunteers, and other humanitarian workers operating in deeply challenging conditions, and urging all parties to take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel, those of its specialized agencies, and all other personnel engaged in humanitarian relief activities,
“Noting that, despite ongoing challenges, the United Nations and their implementing partners continue to deliver life‑saving assistance to millions of people in need in Syria through humanitarian aid delivered across borders, including the delivery of food assistance for on average 1 million people every month since 2016; non‑food items for 4 million people; health assistance for 15 million treatments, and water and sanitation supplies for over 3 million people,
“Deeply disturbed by the low number of people reached with humanitarian assistance in hard‑to‑reach and besieged areas, expressing grave alarm at the dire situation of the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged areas in the Syrian Arab Republic, including eastern Ghouta, and reaffirming that sieges of civilian populations in Syria are a violation of international humanitarian law, and calling for the immediate lifting of all sieges,
“Reiterating its grave concern at all instances of hindrances to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, noting that ISIL (also known as Daesh), ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al‑Qaida, are hindering the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, and are responsible for preventing aid delivery through deliberate interference and obstruction,
“Reiterating further its grave concern at the continuing impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance across conflict lines, noting that on average in 2017, a quarter of beneficiaries in the United Nations monthly and bimonthly plans have been reached through inter‑agency cross‑line convoys each month,
“Expressing grave concern that access to medical care continues to be severely restricted, and reiterating the need to respect the principle of medical neutrality, facilitate free passage to all areas for medical personnel, equipment, transport and supplies, including surgical items,
“Reaffirming the need to support the United Nations and their implementing partners in their efforts to expand the delivery of humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need in Syria, and further reaffirming its decision in resolution 2165 (2014) that all Syrian parties to the conflict shall enable the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance directly to people throughout Syria, by the United Nations and their implementing partners, on the basis of United Nations assessments of need and devoid of any political prejudices and aims, including by immediately removing all impediments to the provision of humanitarian assistance,
“Expressing its interest in receiving more detailed information from the United Nations Secretary‑General on the delivery of humanitarian assistance by the United Nations and their implementing partners, in accordance with resolution 2165 (2014),
“Expressing its appreciation for the work of the United Nations monitoring mechanism in monitoring shipments and confirming their humanitarian nature, in accordance with resolutions 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (2016), and commending the mechanism’s efforts in facilitating cross‑border delivery of humanitarian aid by the United Nations and their implementing partners, emphasizing the importance to further robust monitoring of the humanitarian nature of United Nations relief consignments and their delivery inside Syria, and encouraging the United Nations and their implementing partners to continue to take steps to scale up humanitarian deliveries into hard‑to‑reach and besieged areas, including by using, as effectively as possible, border crossings under resolution 2165 (2014),
“Reiterating the need for all parties to respect and uphold the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance, and emphasizing the importance of upholding the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, in the provision of humanitarian assistance, and recalling also the importance of humanitarian deliveries reaching their intended beneficiaries,
“Noting the role that ceasefire agreements which are consistent with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law can play in facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance in order to help save civilian lives, and recalling in this regard that the Terms for the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria, endorsed in its resolution 2268 (2016), when implemented, have benefited the humanitarian situation,
“Noting the ongoing work on de‑escalation areas to reduce violence as a step towards a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire, and emphasizing that humanitarian access must be part of such efforts,
“Expressing grave concern at the more than 5.4 million refugees, including more than 3.9 million women and children, who have fled Syria as a result of ongoing violence, and recognizing that the continued severity of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria is further contributing to the movement of refugees and poses risks to regional stability,
“Reiterating its deep appreciation for the significant and admirable efforts that have been made by the countries of the region, notably Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, to accommodate Syrian refugees, including the approximately 2.7 million refugees who have fled Syria since the adoption of resolution 2139 (2014), and mindful of the immense costs and social challenges incurred by these countries as a consequence of the crisis,
“Noting with concern that the international response to the Syrian and regional crisis continues to fall short of meeting the needs as assessed by host governments and the United Nations, therefore urging once again all Member States, based on burden‑sharing principles, to support the United Nations and the countries of the region, including by adopting medium- and long‑term responses to alleviate the impact on communities, providing increased, flexible and predictable funding as well as increasing resettlement efforts and humanitarian demining, and noting the Syria Donors Conference held in Brussels in April 2017, hosted by the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Nations,
“Noting with grave concern that impunity in Syria contributes to 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 situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the crisis,
“Determining that the severity of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region,
“Underscoring 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. Reiterates its demand that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable, and further demands the full and immediate implementation of all the provisions of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (2016), and noting also the presidential statements of 2 October 2013 (document S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (document S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (document S/PRST/2015/15) and recalls that some of the violations and abuses committed in Syria may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity;
“2. Decides to renew the decisions in paragraphs 2 and 3 of Security Council resolution 2165 (2014) for a further period of twelve months, that is, until 10 January 2019;
“3. Requests the Syrian authorities to expeditiously respond to all requests for cross‑line deliveries submitted by the United Nations and their implementing partners, and to give such requests positive consideration;
“4. Reiterates that the situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the Syrian conflict and recalls its demand for the full and immediate implementation of resolution 2254 (2015) to facilitate a Syrian‑led and Syrian‑owned political transition, in accordance with the Geneva Communiqué as set forth in the ISSG Statements, in order to end the conflict in Syria, and stresses again that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria;
“5. Requests the Secretary‑General to conduct, within six months of the adoption of this resolution, an independent written review of the United Nations humanitarian cross‑border operations, including recommendations on how to further strengthen the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism, taking into account the views of relevant parties including the Syrian authorities, the relevant neighbouring countries of Syria and the United Nations Humanitarian Agencies and their implementing partners;
“6. Requests the Secretary‑General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution, and on compliance by all relevant parties in Syria, within the framework of its reporting on resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (2016) and further requests the Secretary‑General to include in his monthly reports overall trends in UN cross‑line and cross‑border humanitarian access, and more detailed information on the humanitarian assistance delivered through United Nations humanitarian cross‑border operations as authorized by resolution 2165 (2014), including on the number of beneficiaries, locations of aid deliveries at district level, and the volume and nature of items delivered;
“7. Reaffirms that it will take further measures under the Charter of the United Nations in the event of non‑compliance with this resolution or resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (2016);
“8. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”