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With Millions of Syrians in Need, Security Council Adopts Resolution 2165 (2014) Directing Relief Delivery through More Border Crossings, across Conflict Lines

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Security Council

7216th Meeting (PM)

Deploring the fact that previous demands for aid access in Syria had not been heeded, the Security Council today authorized — for 180 days — relief delivery “across conflict lines” and through additional border crossings, as well as the expeditious deployment of a monitoring mechanism to assure compliance.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2165 (2014), the 15-member body decided that United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners could, with notification to the Syrian authorities, use the border crossings at Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha in addition to those already in use, “to ensure that assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reached people in need throughout Syria through the most direct routes”.

The new mechanism, the Council decided, would be under the authority of the Secretary-General, and monitor, with the consent of neighbouring countries and notification by the United Nations to the Syrian authorities, the loading of all humanitarian relief consignments.

In a related provision, the Council reaffirmed that all Syrian parties to the conflict must ensure the safety and security of personnel of the United Nations and its humanitarian partners, “without prejudice to their freedom of movement and access”, and reiterated its views on the importance of humanitarian ceasefires and a political solution to the Syria crisis.

It finally affirmed that it “will take further measures” in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolution 2139 (2014) by any Syrian party. It noted that the number of people in need of assistance had grown to over 10 million, including 6.4 million internally displaced persons and more than 4.5 million living in hard-to-reach areas, and that over 240,000 were trapped in besieged areas, according to the Secretary-General.

In explanations following the vote, Council members welcomed the consensus found by the Council and hoped that it could provide a model for the kind of cooperation needed to support the new Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, in fostering inclusive political dialogue to finally put an end to the suffering.

Representatives of co-sponsors Jordan, Luxembourg and Australia, said they had searched for the best ways to ensure humanitarian access given the non-compliance with previous resolutions and to avoid undue obstruction by the Syrian Government, particularly in regard to medical supplies. “It is time for the Syrian parties to put the interest of the citizens first,” the Australian representative said, adding that he was under no illusions, however, that implementation would be easy.

The representative of the United States said that the Council must be ready to act decisively in the event of non-compliance with the resolution, given the experience with resolution 2139 (2014). However, the representative of the Russian Federation stressed there was no trigger in the text for the use of force in the event of non-compliance and said that the text reflected his country’s concerns for the respect of Syrian sovereignty, as well as recognized Syrian efforts to cooperate with humanitarian aid delivery.

Syria’s representative also stressed his Government’s cooperation with the international community to provide aid to people in need in his country. He said the suffering was being caused by terrorists who were in turn being supported by others in the international community. He called for an end to that support.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, China, Chile, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Lithuania, France, Chad, Nigeria and Rwanda.

The meeting started at 12:05 p.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m.


The full text of resolution 2165 (2014) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013) and 2139 (2014), and its presidential statements of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012, 5 April 2012 and 2 October 2013,

“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,

“Being appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of more than 150,000 people, including well over 10,000 children, as a result of the Syrian conflict as reported by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,

“Expressing grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, at the fact that the number of people in need of assistance has grown to over 10 million, including 6.4 million internally displaced persons and over 4.5 million living in hard-to-reach areas, and that over 240,000 are trapped in besieged areas, as reported by the United Nations Secretary-General,

“Deploring the fact that the demands in its resolution 2139 (2014) and the provisions of its presidential statement of 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15) have not been heeded by the Syrian parties to the conflict as stated in the United Nations Secretary-General’s reports of 22 May 2014 (S/2014/365) and 20 June 2014 (S/2014/427), and recognizing that, while some steps have been undertaken by the Syrian parties, they have not had the necessary impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all people in need throughout Syria,

“Commending the indispensable and ongoing efforts of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all humanitarian and medical personnel in Syria and in neighbouring countries to alleviate the impact of the conflict on the Syrian people,

“Reiterating its 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 the more than 2.8 million refugees who have fled Syria as a result of ongoing violence including the approximately 300,000 refugees who have fled since the adoption of resolution 2139 (2014), and urging again all Member States, based on burden-sharing principles, to support these neighbouring host countries to enable them to respond to the growing humanitarian needs, including by providing direct support,

“Strongly condemning the continuing widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed groups,

“Stressing the need to end impunity for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, and reaffirming that those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for such violations and abuses in Syria must be brought to justice,

“Expressing grave alarm in particular at the continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas, including an intensified campaign of aerial bombings and the use of barrel bombs in Aleppo and other areas, artillery, shelling and air strikes, and the widespread use of torture, ill-treatment, sexual and gender-based violence as well as all grave violations and abuses committed against children, and reiterating that some of these violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,

“Reiterating its demand that all parties demilitarize medical facilities, schools and other civilian facilities and avoid establishing military positions in populated areas and desist from attacks directed against civilian objects,

“Reaffirming the primary responsibility of the Syrian authorities to protect the population in Syria and reiterating that parties to armed conflict bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of 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,

“Recalling the need for all parties to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance,

“Expressing grave alarm at the spread of extremism and extremist groups, the targeting of civilians based on their ethnicity, religion and/or confessional affiliations, expressing further grave alarm at the increased attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction, indiscriminate shelling by mortars, car bombs, suicide attacks, tunnel bombs as well as hostage taking, kidnappings, and attacks against civilian infrastructure including deliberate interruptions of water supply, condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and recalling in this regard its resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2129 (2013) and 2133 (2014),

“Deeply disturbed by the continued, arbitrary and unjustified withholding of consent to relief operations and the persistence of conditions that impede the delivery of humanitarian supplies to destinations within Syria, in particular to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and noting the United Nations Secretary-General’s view that arbitrarily withholding consent for the opening of all relevant border crossings is a violation of international humanitarian law and an act of non-compliance with resolution 2139 (2014),

“Emphasizing that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the crisis, reiterating its endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 (Annex II of resolution 2118 (2013)) and demanding that all parties work towards the immediate and comprehensive implementation of the Geneva Communiqué aimed at bringing an immediate end to all violence, violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international law, and facilitating the Syrian-led process launched in Montreux on 22 January 2014, leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future,

“Recalling its intent, expressed in its resolution 2139 (2014), to take further steps in the case of non-compliance with the resolution,

“Determining that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria constitutes 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 that all parties to the conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law and must fully and immediately implement the provisions of its resolution 2139 (2014) and its presidential statement of 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15);

“2. Decides that the United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners are authorized to use routes across conflict lines and the border crossings of Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha, in addition to those already in use, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reaches people in need throughout Syria through the most direct routes, with notification to the Syrian authorities, and to this end stresses the need for all border crossings to be used efficiently for United Nations humanitarian operations;

“3. Decides to establish a monitoring mechanism, under the authority of the United Nations Secretary-General, to monitor, with the consent of the relevant neighbouring countries of Syria, the loading of all humanitarian relief consignments of the United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners at the relevant United Nations facilities, and any subsequent opening of the consignments by the customs authorities of the relevant neighbouring countries, for passage into Syria across the border crossings of Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha, and with notification by the United Nations to the Syrian authorities, in order to confirm the humanitarian nature of these relief consignments;

“4. Decides that the United Nations monitoring mechanism shall be deployed expeditiously;

“5. Further decides that the decisions contained in operative paragraphs two and three of this resolution shall expire 180 days from the adoption of this resolution, and shall be subject to review by the Security Council;

“6. Also decides 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 humanitarian agencies 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;

“7. Notes in this regard the role that ceasefire agreements that are consistent with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law could play to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in order to help save civilian lives, and further underscores the need for the parties to agree on humanitarian pauses, days of tranquillity, localized ceasefires and truces to allow humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Syria in accordance with international humanitarian law, and recalls that starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited by international humanitarian law;

“8. Decides that all Syrian parties to the conflict shall 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 as required by international humanitarian law, without prejudice to their freedom of movement and access, stresses the need not to impede or hinder these efforts, and recalls that attacks on humanitarian workers may amount to war crimes;

“9. Reiterates that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 endorsed as Annex II of its resolution 2118 (2013), pays tribute to the efforts of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, and welcomes the appointment of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Syria Mr. Staffan de Mistura;

“10. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution, and on compliance with it by all Syrian parties to the conflict, within the framework of its reporting on resolution 2139 (2014);

“11. Affirms that it will take further measures in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolution 2139 (2014) by any Syrian party;

“12. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan), welcoming the unanimous adoption of resolution 2165 (2014), stated that efforts had been made on the text to bring the highest degree of consensus, which engendered a unified approach. The non-compliance, particularly by the Syrian authorities, of resolution 2139 (2014) had resulted in the decline of assistance. The resolution adopted today, in concert with 2139 (2014), was designed to guarantee humanitarian assistance with direct routes and with no discrimination to anyone in need in Syria. The co-sponsors had been in constant contact with Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs team dealing with the Syrian dossier to arrive at the most efficient means to extend humanitarian aid on the ground. Jordan, he added, would take any actions necessary against those who did not abide by both resolutions.

SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said the resolution today was a glimmer of hope for the Syrian people, and noted that, of the growing number of 10.8 million people in need, half of them were children. Crimes by the Syrian authorities had included the bombing of hospitals and schools and attacks against staff, as well as against humanitarian convoys. To protect civilians caught in the crosshairs of war, texts had been adopted by the Council to improve access and aid. The recent resolution to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court had been blocked by two vetoes that had aimed to do that.

Since that vote, the situation had only worsened. The Syrian authorities had deliberately impeded aid and confiscated supplies to people living in opposition-controlled areas. They also had continued to block crossing borders. Because of the blatant non-compliance, the co-sponsors had been forced to seek other means to ensure aid was provided to people regardless of where they lived and ensure that it was not “instrumentalized” by the authorities. The text was based on that the situation, which was a threat to security in the region. It now authorized four additional border crossings — two through Turkey, one through Iraq and one through Jordan — which would not require the Syrian authorities’ consent. If the two relevant resolutions were not complied with, the Council today clearly affirmed that supplementary measures would be taken.

GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said that although the adoption was welcome, it should not have been necessary. Resolution 2139 (2014) had set out clearly the Council’s expectations of the Syrian parties’ responsibilities in allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered across borders and conflict lines. However, the resolution, over the past months, had been repeatedly ignored. The number of people in need now numbered 10.8 million, and only 1 per cent of those in hard-to-reach areas were receiving aid. Six thousand to seven thousand new refugees were being generated every day. Today’s resolution affirmed the Council’s determination that the Syrian Government and other parties to the conflict must transform their approach to humanitarian access and delivery. It was time for the Syrian parties to put the interests of Syria’s citizens first. Resolutions 2165 (2014) and 2139 (2014) must be implemented in full. The Council affirmed again today that there would be real consequences for non-compliance.

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) applauded the resolution’s adoption, but said it was deeply regrettable that following February’s adoption of resolution 2139 (2014), this additional action proved necessary, as the humanitarian crisis worsened and the Syrian regime continued to drop barrel bombs and restrict aid to certain areas. “We are determined to make sure today’s action has an impact on the ground,” he said, saying that it should prevent any opportunity for the Syrian Government to impede the delivery of necessary aid at the new crossings. He called on the Secretary-General to quickly deploy the monitoring mechanism. Citing the figures of death, destruction and displacement in Syria, he said that the Council showed today that it was possible to work together to relieve the suffering, but added that that action was just a first step. He urged the entire international community to work for an end to hostilities through an inclusive, Syrian–led political agreement.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that the resolution, in addition to the provisions cited by previous speakers, also called for an end to terrorist activities in Syria. Describing the toll of recent attacks by armed groups, he said that today’s text had taken into account his country’s concerns. His country had consulted with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and was assured that respect was maintained for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria. He underscored that the text contained no automatic mechanism for the use of force to ensure implementation. Rather, its provisions made compromise possible, as did recognition that the Syrian authorities already had taken measures to improve humanitarian access. He expected that the monitoring mechanism would be effective and objective and that the resolution would be implemented by all sides. He noted that the resolution also emphasized the importance of local humanitarian ceasefires. Underscoring the need for a political solution to the crisis, he voiced hope that the constructive approach to today’s text would also apply to the Russian Federation’s resolution concerning terrorist activity.

SAMANTHA POWER ( United States) said that today’s resolution ensured that February’s resolution on humanitarian access would be implemented. Recalling her visit to Syrian refugees, she recounted their descriptions of suffering, as well as attacks on populated areas by the Assad regime and the denial of aid. She welcomed today’s resolution, saying it would allow aid to flow to up to 2 million additional civilians. In that regard, she thanked Syria’s neighbours for their cooperation in the provision of humanitarian assistance. The situation should not have required another resolution, but Syria had used the denial of aid as “yet another weapon in its cruel arsenal”. However, the Council must be ready to take decisive action in the event of non-compliance. Today’s resolution, like the one on chemical weapons, showed that that the Council could be effective when it acted together in ending the horrors experienced by the Syrian people.

LIU JIEYI ( China) said that the resolution once again proved that all parties were bearing in mind the interest of the Syrian people, were meeting each other halfway, and that vigorous actions by the Council were possible, as reflected by today’s unanimous vote. He called on all parties to actively cooperate and comply with the text, adding that humanitarian aid and relief respect State sovereignty while trying to gain the understanding of the States concerned. It should also avoid politicizing the situation. A political solution was the only way out of the crisis, and the international community should scale up efforts towards that goal, implement the Geneva Communiqué and find a middle road suited to Syria’s specific conditions. Staffan de Mistura’s appointment as Special Envoy would bring a fresh impetus to the process.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET ( Chile) stressed today’s adoption would have been superfluous if all parties had complied with the 2 October 2013 presidential statement and resolution 2139 (2014). Today’s text reiterated elements of the previous two and complemented them. The resolution, which established new mechanisms, addressed bureaucratic obstacles and reflected the urgent need for measures on the ground. Echoing the Secretary-General’s statement in June that the international community must do everything possible to help the Syrian people, he also stressed that the resolution must put an end to the conflict’s militarization, including arms flows from outside parties. The only sustainable solution was a Syrian-led political one, he said, welcoming Mr. de Mistura’s appointment.

OH JOON ( Republic of Korea) said the text was operationally focused to support efficient delivery of humanitarian aid, and he expected its full and immediate implementation. Since adoption of 2139 (2014) four months ago, which remained far from implemented, violence had increased, with women and children continuing to bear the brunt of the war. He urged all parties, particularly the Government, to comply with all texts. More so, the Council should live up to its promise that it would take further measures in the event of non-compliance by any party.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) said that the passage of February’s resolution 2139 (2014) was clear in calling for greater humanitarian access. However, the situation had since worsened, with the parties to the conflict continuing to violate international humanitarian law. That was why her country voted for today’s measure, hoping it would strengthen the Council’s action to protect civilians while respecting Syria’s sovereignty. Noting the many negative effects of the conflict on Syria and the region, she underscored the importance of inclusive political dialogue to end the situation, as well as the arms flows to the country, supporting the efforts of the new Special Envoy in that regard.

DAINIUS BAUBLYS ( Lithuania), welcoming today’s action, commended all humanitarian actors for their work, stressing that aid must reach all those in need. “When a Government is no longer in a position to guarantee the safety and basic needs of its citizens, then it must not stand in the way of international relief organizations to do so,” he said. Both sides had committed violations, but the primary responsibility was with the Syrian Government, he said, decrying massive and brutal violations of human rights and maintaining that some could be categorized as war crimes. Given the threats to the entire world posed by the Syrian conflict, he said that the Council must not fail to take Article 41 measures in case of non-compliance, including referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said that today’s resolution was necessary because of non-compliance with February’s text and the hindrance of humanitarian relief by the Syrian Government. Aid must be delivered without prejudice and political interference. Noting that all of the provisions of resolution 2139 (2014) were still in effect, he pointed to the importance of demands to end such practices as barrel bombing. He also stressed that, in order to effectively end the suffering of the Syrian people, an inclusive political solution was necessary.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad), thanking the co-sponsors, voiced hope that today’s adoption would improve the humanitarian situation and relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, as well as ensure unhindered access of humanitarian aid to those in need. He also hoped that the text would not be just another resolution, but would, in fact, put an end to the intentional obstacles to aid. The Council must ensure effective implementation by all parties to put an end “once and for all” to end the suffering. Furthermore, the international community must scale up its efforts and urge all parties to the conflict to resume negotiations.

U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said that as the fighting remained brutal and intractable and with the presence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham, action by the international community was imperative. The text authorized humanitarian aid across borders to deliver to those in need, with a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the aid was reaching those for whom it was intended. The text also reflected the Council’s relentless commitment to work tirelessly to help the Syrian people, and it would serve as a model for its future work. She called on all parties to utilize the good offices of the recently appointed Special Envoy, Mr. de Mistura, to find a solution to the impasse.

Security Council President EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda), speaking in his national capacity, recognized the unwavering commitment to ensure humanitarian assistance to Syria. The resolution, as a follow-up to past texts, contained important aspects, including the opening of four border crossings. He called on the Government, the opposition and all other stakeholders to uphold the text. Only a political solution would end the crisis, and he welcomed the appointment of Special Envoy de Mistura. He also called on all parties who had influence on those involved to urge a political solution.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), opening his statement by condemning Israeli actions in Gaza and the Israeli practices of past decades, said that terrorism was being used to create an opportunity for international intervention in Syria. His Government was doing its best to provide for the humanitarian needs, despite the increase of terrorist activity that caused civilian suffering and displacement and made it difficult to distribute relief. The Government was cooperating with the United Nations, granting licenses for scores of non-governmental organizations and signing response plans with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in compliance with Council resolutions; however, ending terrorism by groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham and the Al-Nusra front was needed.

Pressure on those countries that supported terrorist entities was needed for that same reason, he said, adding that ignoring such backing and calling terrorist groups “Syrian opposition” also hurt the situation. He asked how Council members could abet the delivery of arms to so-called moderate opposition groups when they knew much of those arms went to groups recognized as terrorists. Ignoring terrorist attacks on humanitarian convoys and unilateral efforts to provide aid were harmful, as was directing aid through non-national channels. Syria’s sovereignty must be respected. One could not support terrorist groups while claiming to fight the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The recent elections proved that the Syrian people were solid in the face of pressures and no outside voices could hijack their future.

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