Statement by Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan in Explanation of Vote on Security Council Draft Resolution on Syria (19 July 2012)

Mr. President,

These are trying and most unfortunate circumstances for Syria and its people. The increasing violence, killings and violations of human rights in Syria, which are being attributed to both sides, but of which innocent civilians are the main victims, are condemnable and totally unacceptable. Our position in the Security Council has been motivated by the primary desire to end violence and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and to address their legitimate aspirations.

This is also the desire of the wider international community. There was also agreement that the best way of peacefully addressing this increasingly complex and volatile situation was through a political process led and owned by the Syrians. Militarization could only take us away from a peaceful solution and cause even greater suffering to the Syrian people, as is evident from the recent developments.

After an initial period of division and stalemate, what brought the entire Council together was the Mission of the Joint Special Envoy, Mr. Kofi Annan, and his Six-Point Plan. The Council subsequently agreed, unanimously, to deploy a UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), whose value has been acknowledged by all, despite the circumstances in which it has had to work. The Secretary General has accordingly recommended continuation of UNSMIS. As the situation on the ground got worse, we saw other avenues explored, such as the 30 June Action Group meeting in Geneva, whose outcome, Pakistan also agreed to support in good faith, even though we, like many others, were not part of that process. The objective again was to continue support for the Envoy's Plan and the efforts for a political settlement.

Mr. President,

Pakistan believes that success of the Council's collective and stated objective to achieve a peaceful solution in Syria hinged on a united approach, something that has also been consistently emphasized by the Special Envoy. This was time for the Council to remain united and build on the Geneva Outcome that had provided openings for the much needed political track. It was also a new opportunity for all sides, especially the most influential quarters, to throw their genuine and full weight behind the Special Envoy's efforts by engaging and working with the parties.

It is unfortunate that despite the clear objective of supporting Mr. Annanís efforts and despite the gravity of the situation, the Council's unity was undermined by the divergence of views on how to move forward. As a result, the Council has ended up not moving at all. This is a serious setback that could have been avoided had the divisive issues of Chapter VII and coercive measures been set aside.

From the outset, Pakistan had expressed its reservations on a coercive approach, which in our view could further escalate tensions, and be counter-productive and unhelpful in pursuing a pacific settlement of the situation.

A constructive spirit of flexibility was necessary to bring all Council Members on the same page to ensure that the Syrian crisis is resolved with minimum damage to the country and without extra territorial repercussions. Regrettably, this spirit was not upheld in the run up to this draft resolution being put to a vote.

Our repeated calls for a united and consensus approach by the Council were not heeded. We were, therefore left with no choice but to disassociate ourselves from this divisive scenario which the Council has been led into and thus to abstain on the draft resolution.

As we have said before, this is not and cannot be a blame game, as any success or failure of this Council will always be collective. The environment of uncertainty resulting from today's actions is extremely dangerous and explosive. We therefore need to pick up the pieces and quickly get our act together, for the sake of peace, and for the sake of the Syrian people.

We urge both sides to eschew violence and facilitate a Syrian-led political process. Primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian Government. Forthcoming month of Ramadhan should be a reason for all sides to declare a truce and engage in dialogue. This has become all the more evident due to the condemnable suicide attack targeting Syrian leadership yesterday.

We believe that continued presence of UNSMIS on ground is crucial to facilitate and support the peace efforts. We are of the view that linking its mandate extension to Chapter VII and coercive measures was not the right course of action. We, therefore, would like to propose as an interim measure a draft resolution for a technical rollover of UNSMIS for a short period, pending Council's agreement on the wider issues for a way forward.

I thank you.