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Ambassador Rice’s Remarks on Syria to U.N. Security Council

04 February 2012

U.S. Mission to the United Nations
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, NY
February 4, 2012

Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice,
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
At a Security Council Session on Syria, February 4, 2012

As delivered

Mr. President, the United States is disgusted that a couple of members of this Council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose here-addressing an ever-deepening crisis in Syria and a growing threat to regional peace and security.

For months this Council has been held hostage by a couple of members. These members stand behind empty arguments and individual interests while delaying and seeking to strip bare any text that would pressure Asad to change his actions. This intransigence is even more shameful when you consider that at least one of these members continues to deliver weapons to Asad.

The United States has long said that it's past time that this Council assumed its responsibilities and imposed tough, targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Asad regime, as many individual countries have already done. But this draft didn't even do that. This text simply supported an Arab League plan that Asad himself already agreed to uphold, and the subsequent Arab League decision towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

The co-sponsors of this draft have truly gone the last mile to try to reach consensus on a draft that already more than accommodates the concerns of a few Council members about the use of force and sanctions. Subsequent attempts to introduce wrecking amendments at the very eleventh hour only to further delay Council action are unforgivable. Since yesterday, the Syrian government has waged an intensified and especially horrific campaign in Homs to murder hundreds, including women and children, with artillery and tanks and other indiscriminate violence. Syrian forces continue to prevent hundreds of innocent and injured civilians from seeking medical help. The international community must protect the Syrian people from this abhorrent brutality. But a couple members of this Council remain steadfast in their willingness to sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant. The United States by contrast stands fully and irrevocably with the long-suffering people of Syria.

Since these same two Council members last vetoed a resolution on Syria, we have heard reports from the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the regime may be committing crimes against humanity; from Arab League Secretary General Elaraby; and from Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who noted that the Asad regime has "failed to make any serious effort to cooperate" with the Arab League, and that Asad's "killing machine continues effectively unabated."

Since these two members last vetoed a resolution on Syria, an estimated 3,000 more civilians have been killed. 3,000. Another almost 250 killed just yesterday. Many thousands more have been held captive and tortured by Asad and his shabiha gangs. Since these two members last vetoed a resolution, however, and despite the absence of Security Council action, we have seen more and more Syrians speak out in peaceful demonstrations against the regime.

Once again, the courageous people of Syria can clearly see who on this Council supports their yearning for liberty and universal rights-and who does not. And during this season of change, the people of the Middle East can now see clearly which nations have chosen to ignore their calls for democracy and instead prop up desperate dictators. Those who opposed this resolution have denied this last chance to end Asad's brutality through peaceful means under Arab League auspices. Any further blood that flows will be on their hands.

The governments that once again stymied Council action need to reverse course and heed the voices of the Syrian people for their own sake, for the sake of Syria, for the sake of the Middle East, and for the sake of this Council.

Thank you, Mr. President.


(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)