“Bashar al-Assad must go. There’s no political solution with him. He is a threat, he’s continuing with unbelievable violence to massacre the people, destroy cities and kill women and children – we’ve had evidence of this again in the past few days. It is intolerable for the human conscience, unacceptable for the region’s security and stability. The matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court so that those responsible for these atrocities one day stand trial. I want to be clear: France shoulders all her responsibilities and spares no effort in order for the Syrian people to gain their freedom and security.”
François Hollande, President of the French Republic, 27 August 2012
28 November 2013. The Security Council adopted a press statement strongly condemning the mortar shelling against the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Damascus, which killed one and wounded nine people including among the Embassy security personnel.
On 5 November 2013, during private consultations, Mrs. Sigrid Kaag, Coordinator of the UN-OPCW (United Nations - Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Joint Mission, briefed the Security Council on progress in the implementation of Resolution 2118.
In its intervention, the Representative of France paid tribute to the work achieved by the Joint Mission. He welcomed the encouraging start of this mission. He nevertheless urged the Security Council to maintain its vigilance concerning the implementation of Resolution 2118. The good faith of a regime which initially denied having chemical weapons, which had used its chemical weapons against its own people and which has already concealed facilities from the International Atomic Energy Agency could be questioned. Mr. Araud also indicated that the implementation of Phase 3 of the destruction of chemical weapons would be the most sensitive. Finally, he recalled that the destruction of chemical weapons would in no way put an end to the Syrian conflict. He called for a speedy holding in Geneva of a conference leading to a political transition in Syria. He urged the Security Council to ensure humanitarian access in Syria.
On 4 November 2013, Mrs. Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, encouraged the adoption of a monitoring plan of the implementation of the Council Presidential Statement concerning humanitarian access in Syria. The humanitarian situation was continuing to deteriorate, with 9, 3 million people – 6, 5 million of whom are internally displaced people- in need of humanitarian assistance.
On 25 October 2013, Mrs. Valerie Amos, UN coordinator for humanitarian affairs, briefed the Security Council on the implementation the UNSC statement adopted on 2 October 2013, which called on all parties to the conflict in Syria to facilitate humanitarian access to civilians in need. Mrs. Amos indicated that no progress was to report on the ground despite the unanimous call of the UNSC. 2.5 million Syrians in combat areas have remained deprived of humanitarian aid for one year.
In the private consultations which followed, the Permanent Representative of France assessed that a renewed Security Council initiative would be necessary to contribute to the improvement of the situation on the ground. The Security Council, divided on the issue of Syria, would need to be able to agree on specific operational messages.
On 22 October 2013, the Security Council met for its quarterly public debate on the Middle East, with Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, and Mr. Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel. With regard to Syria, the members of the Security Council have deplored the humanitarian impact of the Syrian crisis and expressed their support for the countries hosting Syrian refugees.
In its intervention, the Representative of France called for a full implementation of Resolution 2118 for the neutralization of Syria’s chemical weapons. At the same time, he called for a speedy holding in Geneva of a conference leading to a political transition in Syria, since the only solution to the crisis in Syria will be political. Finally, he supported the Syrian National Coalition and urged the Security Council to ensure humanitarian access in Syria.
On 16 October 2013, the Secretary-General appointed Mrs Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands as Special Coordinator of the UN-OPCW (United Nations - Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons ) Joint Mission to eliminate the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2118.
3 October 2013. The Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on the humanitarian situation in Syria. In this statement, the Council calls on the Syrian authorities to “take immediate steps to facilitate the expansion of humanitarian relief operations”. The text calls for immediate action to facilitate humanitarian assistance to affected persons, through safe and unhindered access to all areas, including if needed across conflict lines and across borders from neighboring countries. This assistance should be provided according to the needs, without any prejudice or political motives, according to International Humanitarian Right. Finally, all the parties to the conflict are urged to protect civilians by refraining from targeting medical facilities, schools and water stations or establishing militarized positions in inhabited areas. This statement, if fully implemented, should allow to assist 2 million people still deprived from any help.
On 27 September 2013, the Security Council adopted unanimously resolution 2118 on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. After 17 months of paralysis on the Syrian issue, the Security Council most strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syrian Arab Republic and particularly the August 21st attack. This resolution makes the use chemical weapons a threat to international peace and security. The Council calls for the “full implementation of special procedures for the expeditious and verifiable destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons” as fast and safe as possible. It also underlines that “no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer such weapons”. Violation of the resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, would bring about measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which includes sanctions and other coercive measures.
The resolution also endorses a diplomatic plan for the Syrian crisis, supporting the organization in Geneva of an international conference on Syria, to which all Syrian parties “fully representative of the Syrian people” are invited to participate.
“Tonight, in the midst of the Syrian crisis, the Security Council can finally live up to its name” declared Mr. Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, after the vote. It is thanks to firmness and strike threats that Syria and its allies recognized the possession of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and accepted their destruction. For France, the resolution meets the three requirements stated by President Hollande at the UNGA opening debate:
— it determines that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security;
— it clearly states that those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable
— it decides that, in the event of non-compliance by the Syrian regime, the Council will take action under Chapter VII of the Charter.
However, Mr. Laurent Fabius underlined that the resolution was only a first step; and that that the United Nations and the OPCW should immediately deploy their joint mission to implement it. He finally called for the relaunch of the political process with the preparation of Geneva II, to allow the transfer of all executive powers in Syriato a transitional body.
26 September 2013. During the opening week of the UN General Assembly, France organized a public meeting of the Friends of Syria Group with the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. For the first time, Mr. Ahmad Al-Jarba, president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces was able to address, within the United Nations premises, hundreds of delegations, more than forty of them being represented at ministerial level. Mr. Al-Jarba insisted on the Coalition’s will to embody a democratic and moderate opposition, rejecting any form of extremism. He denounced the use of chemical weapons and called not only for their destruction but also for the prosecution, by the International Criminal Court, of perpetrators. All the participants renewed their support to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and called for a political solution to implement the Geneva I communiqué. Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Representative of the United-Nations, underlined that the Coalition played a key and central role in making the Geneva II conference possible.
France, represented by Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, opened the meeting by recalling the legitimacy and representativeness of the Coalition recognized by more than a hundred of countries. In his statement, Mr. Fabius exhorted the international community to support the Coalition against the regime of Bachar Al-Assad which was constituting its brutal repression, and against extremists who were taking advantage of the current chaos. He finally recalled that it was urgent to give massive assistance to the people of Syria, especially in areas not controlled by the regime anymore and where the needs were enormous. In this context, France decided to contribute with additional 20 million euros to the needs inside Syria as well as for assistance to refugees and host countries.
On 16 September 2013, the Security Council met in private consultations to hear a presentation of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General, on the report of the UN chemical weapons investigators, led by Mr. Sellström. The report, based on several interviews with civilians and rigorous analysis of multiple samples collected from the sites of the attack and the victims, confirmed that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in the area of the Ghouta on 21 August, during the attack that killed and injured hundreds of civilians.
Following the presentation of the Secretary-General, the representative of France stated that the detailed elements of the report on the circumstances of the attack, the procedure and the nature of the chemical agent used, combined with the Syrian chemical program known to all, left no room for those who pleaded the case of Bashar Al- Assad. He declared that the Security Council had to send a clear message to make sure that those responsible of this massacre would be prosecuted and brought to the ICC.
Following these consultations, the Secretary-General met with the press to publicly present the report of the UN chemical weapons investigators.
The representative of France also made remarks to the press in which he said that the use of chemical weapons by the regime on 21 August was irrefutable. He also stated that the Russia/US Geneva Agreement should be fully implemented to ensure the effective dismantling of the chemical arsenals of the Syrian regime. In order to achieve this goal, France, the U.S. and the UK prepared a draft resolution aiming to make legally-binding and enforceable the Geneva Agreement.
On 17 September, the Secretary-General presented the report to the General Assembly. Following his presentation, he urged the Syrian regime to comply with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) and asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to set up a procedure, in order to ensure that Syria declares as soon as possible all its chemical arsenals. He also asked the Security Council to adopt a binding resolution to that effect. During this meeting, the representative of France stated that the Syrian commitments should be monitored by a binding resolution of the Security Council under Chapter VII, with serious consequences in case of failure or disrespect and creating means of inspection and control of the obligations of the Syrian regime.
4 September 2013 Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, presented to the Security Council his “Monthly Horizon Scanning” entirely dedicated to the Middle-East. During these private consultations, he mentioned the Syrian conflict and the issue of the use of chemical weapons.
During this meeting, France recalled that the information it detains and which has been made public established with certainty that the Syrian regime is responsible for the chemical massacre committed on August 21st in the suburbs of Damascus. France underlined the importance of reacting to the impunity of Bachar El-Assad and undermining any further use of chemical weapon. The representative of France also pointed out that the credibility of the commitments against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were at stake. Finally, he recalled that only a political solution would allow a way out for the Syrian crisis.
On 21 August 2013, following the massacre perpetrated by the Syrian army near Damascus, France, alongside the United Kingdom, the United States, the Republic of Korea and Luxembourg, requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council. During these closed consultations, the members of the Security Council heard the report of Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, on these deadly attacks and their humanitarian consequences.
In his statement, the representative of France insisted that the UN experts in charge of investigating the use of chemical weapons, who are already in Damascus, should have an immediate, free and unconditional access to the sites where the attacks occurred.
Following these consultations, the President of the Security Council made remarks to the press, on behalf of all Council members.
On 20 August 2013, Mr. Oscar Fernandez Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, presented his report on the situation in the Middle East to the Security Council. On the Syrian crisis, he stated that 6.8 million Syrians were dependent on humanitarian aid. He reported continued violations of international law and humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and some groups of the opposition and called on the Security Council to ensure that those guilty of war crimes will be prosecuted. Finally, he also informed the Security Council of the arrival in Syria of UN experts in charge of investigating the use of chemical weapons. They will present their conclusions at the end of their investigation, which should last 14 days unless extended with the assent of the Syrian authorities.
During the closed consultations that followed, the representative of France exhorted the Syrian government to grant the UN experts unhindered and unfettered access to the sites. He also said that Geneva II conference was urgent in order to transfer executive power, including control of the police and the army, to a transitional government, and also asked the Council to refer the Syrian case to the ICC to ensure that perpetrators of humanitarian crimes are brought to justice.
The complete timeline of events here.
In the context of the popular uprisings related to the Arab Spring, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has faced mass protests in several cities since March, 15. 2011. The appointment of a new government in April 2011 and the lifting of the state of emergency, effective since 1963, did not put an end to the protests.
Before the ferocity of the Syrian authorities’ crackdown against their own people, France and its allies asked for a strong reaction of the Security Council to demand a political, democratic and peaceful transition in Syria. The claims of demonstrators were legitimate and had to be heard. The Security Council could however not overcome the deadlock due to its members political divisions. The Russian Federation and China vetoed three draft resolutions condemning the repression of the civilian population by the government and opening the possibility of sanctions.
The United Nations General Assembly was hence chosen as an alternative venue to convey the voice of the international community. To condemn the Syrian regime abuses, it worked closely with the Human Rights Council in Geneva. These two UN bodies succeeded in adopting with large majorities several resolutions strongly condemning the crimes committed by the al-Assad regime against the Syrian people.
In February 2013, Mrs Navi Pillay, UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights, estimated that more than 70,000 people had been killed in Syria since the beginning of the uprising two years earlier. According to Mrs Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, nearly 6.8 million people were in need and 4.25 million internally displaced. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres stressed out the threat posed by the growing flow of refugees on neighbouring countries stability. According to his projections, the number of refugees might affect 3.5 million Syrians by the end of the year. (Update: April 2013)
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was acting in Syria before the beginning of the crackdown. This Force had been established in 1974 by Security Council Resolution 350, following the agreed ceasefire and disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces from the Golan Heights. Since then, UNDOF mandate was renewed every six months to monitor the implementation of the disengagement and maintain the ceasefire.
Facing the bloody crackdown of the regime, the United Nations strengthened their activities in Syria by appointing, jointly with the Arab League, a Special Representative in Syria. After Mr Kofi Annan’s resignation, Mr Lakhdar Brahimi was designated in August 2012. In April 2012, the Security Council established the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) to support the full implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six points plan to end the conflict in Syria, including the ceasefire agreement. However, as the level of violence had not sufficiently abated at the set deadline, UNSMIS mandate came to an end on 19 August 2012.
The regime in Damascus had ignored calls of the international community, especially the Presidential Statement adopted by the Security Council in August 2011. France and its allies in the Security Council presented several draft resolutions to condemn the use of force against peaceful protesters and civilian people, as well as the widespread violations of Human Rights by the Syrian regime. However, these draft resolutions were vetoed three times by two Security Council permanent members: China and the Russian Federation.
On 4 October 2011, the Security Council was called to vote on a draft resolution presented by France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Portugal. The draft resolution condemned the repression by the Syrian authorities and indicated the Council’s readiness to consider its options, including sanctions, if its call was not heard. A majority of nine delegations voted in favour of the draft and four abstained (South Africa, Brazil, India and Lebanon). Russia and China vetoed the text, which was subsequently rejected.
On 4 February 2012, as no objections had been expressed by the other States, a draft resolution presented by Morocco on the behalf of the Arab group and co-sponsored by 14 countries, including France, the United Kingdom and the United States, was put to a vote. This text was endorsing the plan established by the Observers of the League of Arab States aimed at ending the crisis and starting a peaceful transition (accordingly to Security Council Resolution 2028). The draft resolution gathered the approval of thirteen member States. Being against the adoption of the text, Russia and China vetoed the draft resolution.
On 19 July 2012, Russia and China vetoed one more time a draft resolution tabled by France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal and the United States which aimed at putting the Annan plan under chapter VII of the UN Charter and accompanying it by a threat of sanctions for non compliance. Eleven member states voted in favour. Pakistan and South Africa abstained.
Given the Security Council standstill, the United Nations General Assembly was chosen as an alternative venue to convey the voice of the international community and denounce serious crimes committed by the Syrian authorities. It succeeded to adopt several resolutions with large majorities, by working closely with the Human Rights Council, which had, since the beginning of the crisis, strongly condemned the authorities in Damascus for the massive crackdown against their people and for the crimes against humanity being committed.
On 29 April 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted a previous resolution on Syria which strongly denounced the massive violations of human rights by the Syrian regime.
On 30 June 2011, the Security Council unanimously approved resolution 1994, co-sponsored by France, renewing for six months the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights. The text of the resolution had remained unchanged for many years. However, the violent incidents at the Israeli-Syrian border on 15 May and 5 June 2011, favoured by the authorities of Damascus, led the Council to adapt the text of the resolution. Resolution 1994 thus recalled the obligations of the parties to preserve the cease-fire and to fully cooperate with UNDOF operations.
On 23 August 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the serious and systematic crimes committed by the Syrian authorities, "including arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and deadly violence against protesters". In this text, the Human Rights Council also decided to dispatch urgently an independent international inquiry commission (CoI) to investigate violations of international human rights law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Following the adoption of this resolution, Mr Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, said: "This resolution, which sends a message of firmness and unequivocally condemns the crackdown in Syria, was adopted by a large majority of the Human Rights Council’s member States. It reflects the international community’s growing concern in the face of the crimes committed by the Syrian regime against its own population. France had campaigned in support of convening this new special session of the Human Rights Council on Syria, which follows on from the one held on 29 April 2011, and in support of the adoption of a substantial resolution."
On 19 December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted, by 122 votes in favor, 11 against and 43 abstentions, a resolution co-sponsored by France and 60 other states, which strongly condemned, in particular, "the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the persecution and killing of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill treatment of detainees, including children".
After the vote, Mr. Alain Juppé, ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs expressed France’s determination, "given the extreme gravity of the situation", to pursue it efforts "in all relevant forums, to put and end to the violations of human rights and the brutality against civilians in Syria".
On 21 December 2011, the Security Council adopted resolution 2028 renewing for six months the mandate of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights and authorizing the deployment of 165 observers of the League of Arab States.
On 16 February 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution presented by the Arab group and co-sponsored by 72 states, expressing the full support of the international community to the Arab League’s peace plan. The resolution stresses in particular the responsibility of the Syrian authorities in the violence against civilians and the systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country. It supports the Arab League’s roadmap for a political transition in Syria, urges the Syrian authorities to allow humanitarian access to the civilian populations and mandates the United Nations Secretary General to appoint a Special Envoy. 137 States voted in favour of the resolution, 17 abstained and 12 states voted against it (Syria, Russia, China, Belarus, North Korea, Iran, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Zimbabwe; check out the voting records).
On 23 February 2012, implementing the resolution adopted a week earlier by the General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary General and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States announced the appointment of Nobel Peace Prize and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as their joint special envoy for the crisis in Syria. They requested Mr. Annan to "provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis (...) and to facilitate a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian Government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”
On 1 March 2012, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution co-sponsored by 60 countries, including France, calling on the Syrian government to immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians, to cease all violence and to allow free and unimpeded access by the UN and humanitarian agencies. The resolution strongly condemned the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental rights by the Syrian authorities and deplored "the Syrian regime’s brutal actions over the past 11 months. The resolution was passed with 37 States voting in support, three voting against (Russia, China and Cuba) and three abstentions (India, Ecuador and the Philippines).
On 23 March 2012, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva condemned, for the second time in its 19th session, the authorities in Damascus for the massive crackdown against their people and for the crimes against humanity being committed, demanding the cessation of violence and the establishment of humanitarian access, as well as the start of a national political dialogue. The Council also decided to extend the mandate of the commission of inquiry on Syria, in light of the dramatic situation on the ground. With 41 countries voting in favour a wider majority of states supported the resolution while three (Russia, China and Cuba) opposed it and two, Ecuador and Uganda, abstained.
On 14 April 2012, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2042. This resolution, the first to be adopted since the crisis began mote than a year ago, calls once again upon the Syrian authorities to fully implement their obligations and authorizes the deployment a first observation mission, with a number of safeguards to guarantee its success. In his explanation of vote, the permanent representative of France stressed that the decrease in violence since April 12 occurred more than a year after the beginning of the crisis and more than 10,000 dead. He reiterated that the onus remained on the Syrian regime to prove its good will, in demonstrating its compliance with all the obligations to which it had subscribed, and that the international community, who now found its ability to speak again with one voice, would judge Damascus by its deeds.
On 21 April 2012, the Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2043, co-sponsored by China, Colombia, France, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal and Russia, authorizing the deployment of 300 observers of UNSMIS (United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria), with a civilian component, and a mandate to monitor the cessation of violence and the full implementation of Kofi Annan’s six points plan.
On 20 July 2012, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2059 extending for the final 30 days the UN observer mission in Syria (UNSMIS).
On 3 August 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by 133 votes against 12 and 31 abstentions a resolution presented by the Arab Group and cosponsored by nearly 60 countries, including France, condemning the shelling of cities by the Syrian army and criticizing the inability of the Security Council to pressure Damascus. The resolution condemned the increasing use of heavy weapons by the Syrian authorities and highlighted the concern over the Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles. It called for a democratic political transition in Syria. The twelve countries that rejected the resolution are Syria, China, Russia, Belarus, Myanmar, Bolivia, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
On 17 August, the United Nations Secretary-General announced along with the Secretary-General of the Arab League the appointment of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi as Joint Special Representative for Syria and successor of Mr. Kofi Annan. The French presidency of the Security Council sent a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express the Council’s support to his good offices and to the mission of the Joint Special Representative for Syria.
On 19 December 2012, the Security Council adopted unanimously resolution 2084 extending the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan until the 30 June 2013.
On 15th May 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/67/262, presented by Qatar and co-sponsored by 61 States, with 107 votes in favor, 12 votes against and 59 abstentions.
This resolution welcomes the establishment of the National Coalition as an effective representative interlocutor needed for a political transition. It also expresses the outrage of the international community at the death of at least 70 000 people in the Syrian army Republic, as reported on 12 February 2013.
Facing the pursuance of the massive crackdown and the widespread violations of Human Rights by the Syrian regime, the European Union has gradually set up restrictive measures against Syria since May 2011.
As of May 2013, more than 179 people and 54 entities including the leading members of the Syrian regime are being targeted by around 20 rounds of European Union sanctions.
Since 9 May 2011, the Council of the European Union has adopted targeted sanctions (visa bans and assets freezes) against senior regime officials identified as being responsible for the violent crackdown against the civilian population. These sanctions concern several dozen individuals, including President Bashar al-Assad, his wife Asma al-Assad, his mother, his sister and his sister-in-law, as well as the ministers of Defense, Justice and Information, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Economy and commerce, and several dozen individuals linked to the regime and high-ranking army officers. On 15 October 2012, the EU Council added 28 persons responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population to the list of those subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze.
Financial sanctions are also being imposed. They cover several economic, media and industrial entities, particularly in the banking, telecommunications and oil sectors, as well as the Iranian elite Quds Force and Syria’s main civilian and military intelligence services. European loans to the country were frozen on 14 November 2011. The assets of five Syrian banks were frozen on 24 January 2012 and those of the Central Bank of Syria on 27 February 2012. The 20th round of sanctions decided by EU Foreign Affairs ministers froze the assets of two additional entities in the EU.
Trade sanctions include an arms embargo decided upon in May 2011 and a ban on imports of and trading by European companies in Syrian crude oil (2 September 2011). On 23 September 2011, all new investments in the country’s oil sector were banned, as was the delivery of banknotes and coins to the Central Bank of Syria by European operators. The sale to Syria of equipment for the oil and gas industry and of Internet and telephone communications monitoring software was banned in December 2011. Trading in precious metals was banned and an embargo on cargo flights operated by Syrian airlines was imposed on 27 February 2012. On 23 April, EU Foreign Ministers also agreed to ban the export of luxury goods and goods and technology which might be used for internal repression. On 15 October 2012, the EU has strengthened its arms embargo by prohibiting the importation in the EU of arms from Syria and the EU participation to Syrian arms transfers. Mrs Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, declared: “The EU warns against further militarization of the conflict. We call on all states to refrain from delivering arms to Syria and to follow the EU in stopping the supplies that fuel the fighting."
On 18 February 2013, EU Foreign Ministers decided to extend for three months the EU embargo on the supply of arms to Syria. They added however an amendment enabling countries “to provide greater non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians”. Two months later, EU agreed to ease sanctions on Syria to allow for purchases of crude oil from the opposition, in hopes of throwing a financial lifeline to rebels fighting President al-Assad (22 April 2013).
On 31 May 2013, the EU renewed the restrictive measures adopted against the Syrian regime. At the request of France and the United Kingdom, the embargo on arms to the Syrian National Coalition has been lifted.
On 2 June 2008, the IAEA Director General informed the Board of Governors that the Agency had been provided with information alleging that an installation at the Dair Alzour site in Syria, destroyed in September 2007, had been a nuclear reactor that was not yet operational and into which no nuclear material had been introduced.
Information subsequently provided to the Agency further alleged that the reactor was a gas cooled graphite moderated reactor, that it was not configured to produce electricity, that it had been built with the assistance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and that there were three other locations in Syria that were functionally related to the Dair Alzour site.
Just after the destruction of the installation, large scale clearing and levelling operations took place at the site which had removed or obscured the remains of the destroyed building.
The Agency’s estimation is that the construction of the installation began in spring 2001.
The Agency conducted one inspection on the Dair Alzour site, in June 2008.
Since June 2008, Syria has consistently refused to answer questions from the Agency concerning the Dair Alzour site, the infrastructure observed and the acquisitions made by Syria; to provide information about the construction of the installation; and to grant access to the debris, the site itself and the three locations related to Dair Alzour.
Syria has maintained that the destroyed building was a non-nuclear military installation and that Syria had had no nuclear related cooperation with the DPRK.
In its latest report (GOV/2011/30), dated 24 May 2011, the Director General of the IAEA concluded that the Dair Alzour installation destroyed in 2007 was "very likely" a nuclear reactor, which should have been declared by Syria to the Agency in accordance with its safeguards agreement.
This assessment, which concludes an investigation of several years, is based on a technical analysis taking into account all information available to the Agency.
The Agency determined its assessment of the nature of the Dair Alzour installation on the basis of four criteria:
— The features of the destroyed building: in spite of Syrian efforts to conceal the facility during its construction, and of the disposal, demolition and burial of the remaining elements after the destruction of the building, the Agency concludes that its features correspond to those of a gas cooled graphite moderated reactor of 25 MWth, similar to the one at Yongbyon in the DPRK (which is used to produce plutonium for military purposes);
— The configuration of the infrastructure at the site: the Agency concludes that the configuration, including pumping system and water transfer, is particularly suitable for a nuclear reactor;
— Samples taken by the IAEA during its visit on-site in June 2008: Samples showed the presence of a significant number of particles of anthropogenic natural uranium at the Dair Alzour site, which were not included in the inventory of declared nuclear material in Syria. The Agency has not been able to determine the origin of the particles, but concludes that they indicate a connection to nuclear related activities at the site. The Agency again rejects that these particles could have originated from the munitions used to destroy the building, as claimed by Syria.
— The lack of plausibility of the explanation put forward by Syria on the purpose of the site: the Agency concludes that the features of the building could not have served the purpose claimed by Syria, i.e. that the building was intended to assemble storage and deploy ballistic missiles.
—With regard to the three locations related to the Dair Alzour site: the IAEA indicates that it does not have enough information to provide an assessment on their purpose or current status.
On 9 June 2011, following its report determining that Syria had built a clandestine nuclear reactor at the Dair Alzour site, the Director General of the IAEA sent a letter to the UN Secretary General transmitting a resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors (GOV/2011/41), referring to the Security Council Syria’s non-compliance with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
In its resolution, the IAEA Board of Governors finds Syria in non-compliance with its Safeguards agreement concluded with the IAEA in accordance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), and decides to report the issue to the Security Council, in accordance with Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute.
22 October 2013 - Security Council - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
27 September 2013 - Security Council - Syria - Statement by Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs
26 September 2013 - Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People - Statement by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs
16 September 2013 - Syria / Report of the United Nations chemical weapons investigators - Remarks to the press by Mr Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
29 July 2013 - General Assembly - Human Rights situation in Syria - Statement by Mr. Philippe Bertoux, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations
23 July 2013 - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
24 April 2013 – Security Council - Situation in the Middle-East – Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
All French Statements here
28 November 2013 - Security Council - Press statement - Shelling against Russian Federation Embassy in Damascus
22 October 2013 - London 11 Conference - Final Communiqué
3 October 2013 - Security Council- Presidential Statement PRST/2013/15
27 September 2013 - Security Council - Resolution 2118 on the destruction of the chemical weapons of the Syrian regime
21 August 2013 - Syria - Remarks to the press by the President of the Security Council
27 June 2013 - UNDOF - Security Council - Resolution 2108
7 June 2013 - Security Council - Press statement - humanitarian assistance in Al-Qusayr
6 June 2013 - Security Council - Press statement - United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
16 May 2013 - Security Council - Press statement on United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
15 May 2013 - General Assembly - Resolution A/RES/67/262
7 May 2013 - UNDOF - Security Council Press Statement
26 March 2013 - UNDOF - Security Council Press Statement
22 March 2013 - Damascus bombing - Security Council Press Statement
6 March 2013 - Security Council - Press statement on detention of UNDOF Peacekeepers
19 December 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2084 - extending the mandate of the UNDOF in the Golan until the 30 June 2013.
24 October 2012 - Security Council Press Statement on Ceasefire in Syria
5 October 2012 - Security Council statement issued by the Security Council President
4 October 2012 - Security Council statement issued by the Security Council President
26 September 2012 - Statement by the President of the Security Council
3 August 2012 - General Assembly - Resolution
20 July 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2059
13 June 2012 - Syria - Press conference given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs
14 April 2012 - Security Council resolution 2042
10 April 2012 - Letter from mr Kofi Annan to the Security Council
21 March 2012 - Statement by the President of the Security Council
1 March 2012 - Security Council Press statement on Syria
16 February 2012 - Resolution A/RES/66/253 on the situation in Syria adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
4 February 2012 - Draft resolution put to vote at the Security Council.
21 December 2011 - Resolution 2028 - Renewing the mandate of UNDOF
3 August 2011 - Security Council Presidential Statement on Syria
12 July 2011 - Security Council - Press Statement on embassy attacks in Damascus
30 June 2011 - Resolution 1994 - Renewing the mandate of UNDOF
23 May 2011 - Council of the European Union conclusions on Syria
29 April 2011 - Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council - "The current human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic in the context of recent events"