The crisis in Syria dominated discussions at the UN General Assembly last week which I attended and formed one of the principal themes in my address to the General Assembly on 28 September.I have consistently argued that the UN and the Security Council must be central to any efforts to resolve this crisis and ensure that international law and basic human rights are upheld. Despite the long delay in reaching this stage, I welcome the decisive action the Security Council has now taken on Syria. Full implementation of the provisions for the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons and full compliance by Syria with its obligations is now imperative. Ireland has pledged €200,000 in funding to support the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, assisted by the UN, in implementing these arrangements.
The Security Council has also called for the early convening of the Geneva II peace conference, hopefully by mid-November. Syria’s conflict can only be resolved politically, not militarily. Peace can only come through all Syrians engaging in a genuine, representative and inclusive process to agree a new political dispensation in their country.
I also welcome the Security Council’s clear call for accountability for what has occurred in Syria. I have long called for these crimes to be referred to the ICC which exists precisely for this purpose. Ireland is playing its part in the international effort to meet the massive needs both inside Syria and in the wider region, having contributed almost €11 million to fund relief efforts to date. On a per capita basis, we are one of the most generous contributors in the world to the Syria humanitarian crisis. Ireland has also been consistent in our efforts at EU and international levels to highlight the grave humanitarian dimensions of the crisis and the need for the international community to meet its obligations in providing life-saving assistance to Syria and neighbouring countries. Minister of State Costello will travel to the region in early October to assess the current situation on the ground.