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Ambassador Rice’s Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout on the Veto of a UN Security Council Resolution on Syria

Ambassador Rice: Good evening. I hadn’t intended to get a head start on everyone else but since—this has been quite a sad day, most especially for the people of Syria, but also for this Security Council.

The people of Syria, who seek nothing more than the opportunity to achieve their universal human rights and to see their aspirations for freedom and liberty achieved, have been slapped in the face by several members of this Security Council today.

And as I said in the chamber, I think the people of Syria and the people of the region have had today the opportunity to determine who among us stand with the people of the region in their quest for a better future, and who will go to whatever lengths are necessary to defend dictators who are on the warpath.

I am happy to take a few questions.

Reporter: Ambassador Rice, is this a failure of the European policy in the Security Council? Because they practically emptied the resolution of teeth, or is this, have they been duped by Russia, and China, and the BRICs? Or has this exposed China, Russia, and the rest of the BRIC countries? You did say there was a ‘cheap ruse’ of reaction, basically, by the Russians. What do you expect next? Can you explain these three, four elements of what I just asked you from your point of view as the U.S.?

Ambassador Rice: Well first of all, the United States’ view has been, and remains, that this Council ought to pass a resolution that contains real sanctions and that is what we proudly co-sponsored in August, and what we think is still warranted. Now, I’m not going to sit here and Monday-morning quarterback, or Monday-evening quarterback, how this has unfolded. We supported this resolution because we thought it was a step, had it been passed, in the right direction.

But the fact that, after days, if not a couple of weeks, of strenuous effort on the part of the Europeans to achieve the consensus that ought to have been possible, that that effort of goodwill on their part was met with the response today, I think, says the most about the people who were unable to support this resolution and those who cast the veto.

Reporter: Thank you Madam Ambassador. Do you think that diplomacy has reached a dead-end regarding how the international community should deal in regard with the situation in Syria?

Ambassador Rice: No, I don’t think diplomacy or pressure has reached a dead-end. I mean, the fact of the matter is, despite the vote that we saw today in the Council, the majority of members supported the resolution. The majority of members would have supported a sanctions resolution. And the countries in the region are, every day, coalescing and raising their voices against what is transpiring in Syria. This is not, as some would like to pretend, a Western issue. We had countries all over the world supporting this resolution today, and we have countries throughout the region who’ve been very clear that the brutality of the Asad regime has to end and that the behavior of the regime is absolutely intolerable.

Reporter: Madam Ambassador, would you consider keeping on your reset diplomacy strategy with Russia considering the result it gives you, at least at the Security Council?

Ambassador Rice: Well, I’m not sure it “gives us,” but let us say, given the result—look, we have many, many issues on which we work very constructively with Russia—from non-proliferation to arms control to Iran to North Korea, and many, many others—and will continue to do so. On this issue, we and others had a fundamental disagreement with Russia and other countries. And we think history will bear out who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side. But they are a country able to make their sovereign choices and we are able to make ours, and we can still work together and cooperate on a vast range of issues.

Reporter: Yeah, sure, Ambassador Rice, in the chamber you said, this is not about Libya, it’s about countries that want to sell weapons to Syria. And I guess what I wonder is, is the countries, say the IBSA countries, countries like Brazil and others, do you think that what happened on Libya, that a resolution was passed, and then NATO bombed—from the point of view of those countries, things went further than they authorized—do you really think it had no impact on this? Or do you think all of those countries are selling weapons?

Ambassador Rice: I think this is an excuse. I think the vast majority of countries, even today on the Council that were not able to vote in favor of this text, know that this was a resolution that, in substance, was unobjectionable. And their decisions to vote as they did may have had a lot less to do with the text than it did with some effort to maintain solidarity among a certain group of countries. So I think Libya has been beat to death, overused, and misused as an excuse for countries not to take up their responsibilities with respect to Syria.

Reporter: Just a quick follow-up, Ambassador, because—a good follow up—because, you know, the language you used in describing the Russian behavior today, you know, “Cheap ruse”—this is strong language. But then you’re saying here we’re going to go on business as usual and…

Ambassador Rice: I didn’t say business as usual. I said we are two countries with different interests that disagree on this issue.

Reporter: Take it from here on, in regards to Syria.

Ambassador Rice: Well, first of all, the United States has been very strong and unequivocal in its leadership, on a national basis and on a global basis, in condemning and sanctioning the Asad regime. And we are going to continue, as I said in the Council, to maintain our efforts and maintain pressure on the Asad regime.

It is on the wrong side of history. It is not going to get what it seeks by the continual repression and killing and imprisoning of its people. It doesn’t work and it won’t succeed, and sooner or later that will be self-evident.

Thank you.

 


Ambassador Rice on the Situation in Syria

(Remarks as delivered)

Madame President, the United States is outraged that this Council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security.

Several members have sought for weeks to weaken and strip bare any text that would have defended the lives of innocent civilians from Asad’s brutality. Today, two members have vetoed a vastly watered-down text that doesn’t even mention sanctions.

Let me be clear: the United States believes it is past time that this Council assume its responsibilities and impose tough, targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Asad regime, as we have done domestically.

Yet today, the courageous people of Syria can now clearly see who on this Council supports their yearning for liberty and universal human 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, cruel dictators. Those who oppose this resolution and give cover to a brutal regime will have to answer to the Syrian people—and, indeed, to people across the region who are pursuing the same universal aspirations.

The record is clear. For more than six months, the Asad regime has deliberately unleashed violence, torture, and persecution against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, and their families. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has already warned that the Syrian government’s appalling actions might amount to crimes against humanity. The Asad regime’s crimes have won a chorus of condemnation from the region, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, which demanded an immediate end to what it called Asad’s “killing machine.” But this Council has not yet passed even a hortatory resolution to counter the Asad regime’s brutal oppression.

The arguments against strong Council action grow weaker and weaker by the day. Some on this Council argue that the Asad regime’s abuses are not that egregious, or that the regime deserves more time for its so-called reforms. But as the UN’s own reporting makes clear, the Syrian government’s efforts to mask its continued atrocities are as transparent as its promises of reform are empty. Others claim that strong Security Council action on Syria would merely be a pretext for military intervention.

Let there be no doubt: this is not about military intervention. This is not about Libya. That is a cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people.

This is about whether this Council, during a time of sweeping change in the Middle East, will stand with peaceful protestors crying out for freedom—or with a regime of thugs with guns that tramples human dignity and human rights. As matters now stand, this Council will not even mandate the dispatch of human rights monitors to Syria—a grave failure that may doom the prospects for peaceful protest in the face of a regime that knows no limits.

In August, we clearly condemned the violence and made clear that the Syrian regime’s repression is utterly unacceptable. Several of us on this Council and many throughout the international community have voiced our condemnation and imposed sanctions on the Asad regime. Regional organizations such as the League of Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have urged the Syrian government to stop the bloodshed. But the Syrian government’s reply has been an increase in the violence and repression. And some Council members have chosen to look the other way. We urge the governments that failed to support Council action to change course and heed the voices of the Syrian people. The Asad regime flatly refuses to meet its international obligations, including those laid out in this Council’s August 3 Presidential Statement, and the international community must bring real consequences to bear.

In failing to adopt the draft resolution before us, this Council has squandered an opportunity to shoulder its responsibilities to the Syrian people. We deeply regret that some members of the Council have prevented us from taking a principled stand against the Syrian regime’s brutal oppression of its people. But the suffering citizens of Syria are watching today, and so is the entire Middle East. The crisis in Syria will stay before the Security Council, and we will not rest until this Council rises to meet its responsibilities.

Thank you, Madame President.

 


Remarks by Ambassador Rice at the Security Council Stakeout on Libya, the Middle East, and Sudan

Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon, everyone.

Today has been an unusually good day at the United Nations. We saw the General Assembly act by an overwhelming margin to credential the new Libyan government, its Transitional National Council, as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. We had the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2009, establishing a new United Nations presence in Libya and modifying the sanctions regime to allow resources to flow more easily as well as transparently to the Libyan authorities.

In addition, we adopted a 12-month extension of the mission of the United Nations in Liberia. Which the United States sponsored, and that, too, by a unanimous vote. So it has been a good day.

And, of course, we are looking forward to a busy week next week. As always, President Obama will be here. He will have a very full schedule over the course of his two and a half days here. He will arrive on Monday the 19th in the afternoon. He will have a very full day on Tuesday when he will participate in the Secretary-General’s high-level meeting on Libya, and we view this as a very important occasion. It corresponds to a recommendation that the President, himself, made in August, and we think it provides an opportunity for the international community to show that there is broad and united support for the people of Libya as they embark on this important transition.

He will also participate in a number of bilateral meetings, including with chairman Jalil of the TNC, and will also have the opportunity to co-chair, with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, a very important high-level meeting on open government partnership, and we’re looking very much forward to that.

On Wednesday, he will, of course, give the opening address at the General Assembly and continue his bilateral meetings. The President will participate in the Secretary-General’s lunch and will traditionally do as he always does and host a reception in the evening for heads of state and delegation.

The White House went through a more detailed briefing today of all the aspects of the President’s schedule, so I won’t bore you with that. But, obviously, we look forward to a very productive and important week. And I’m happy to take a few questions

Reporter: As you know, President Abbas said today that he was planning to bring the question of Palestinian membership of the UN to the Security Council. There’s a school of thinking among the Palestinians that it’s time to bring the two-state solution back to the UN because it started here. The U.S. kind of took it over after Madrid, but 20 years later the Palestinians are worse off, they have three times as many settlers, they don’t have a state and they are still under occupation, so they feel like the U.S. has been stalling on them for 20 years. And if they bring it back here, there will be a greater sense of urgency and more sympathy from the international community for seeing a two-state solution through to its fruition. How do you feel about that?

Ambassador Rice: Well, the U.S has not been stalling—we’ve been working very hard for many, many years, but, certainly, from the second day that President Obama took office, to try to accomplish a two-state solution. And that remains our interest and our objective and we are working very hard every day to accomplish that. And we’ll continue to do so during and after the General Assembly this year.

We are supportive and we want to see the creation of a Palestinian state. There is no question about that. And President Obama said so last year, again, here at the General Assembly. But the fact of the matter is, there’s only one way to accomplish that. And that is by the two parties sitting down at the negotiating table and deciding on the terms of that state and deciding on the issues that divide them.

The issues are borders, security, the capitol of a new state, refugees, water and all the very complex final status issues that can’t be decided by fiat and a piece of paper here in the United Nations, whether in the Security Council or the General Assembly.

They can only be decided by direct negotiations between the two parties and an agreement between the two parties. And that’s what we are working very, very hard to foster. That’s been our objective for many years, and certainly over the last two and a half years of the Obama Administration.

Reporter: Two-part question. We know Congress has threatened to cut off funding to the Palestinians if they did this and came to the Security Council [inaudible]. How will this affect the Administration’s relationship with the Palestinians? And also, former President Jimmy Carter was on Al Jazeera today, and he said that the fact that this happened just shows that the United States has lost all hope for the region. Not only for the Palestinians but for the Israelis. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

Ambassador Rice: I think that the United States’ influence in the region remains very strong. We have important alliances and partnerships that we are nurturing, and they continue to bear fruit.
And we have seen, from Libya to Syria to all elements of the region that the United States is very much viewed as an important player and partner and will continue to be so. Now, with respect to the relationship with the Palestinians—first of all, let’s be clear. We heard President Abbas’s speech, we acknowledge what he said, but there are many questions about how this process will unfold in New York, and we certainly don’t want to prejudge that.

We continue to think that the best course would not be actions here in New York, but the best course would be for the parties to return swiftly and seriously to the negotiating table. I’m not going to speculate about the potential reactions in Congress. That is obviously something that will depend on what transpires and how the members of Congress, themselves, react. But for the United States, for the Administration, we certainly view as valuable our partnership with both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and we will continue to play our role in trying to bring the parties to a peaceful settlement.

Reporter: On Sudan, I wanted to ask you this. That beyond just the fighting and bombing in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, there was an agreement that was announced by the UN in Abyei that Khartoum and Juba would both pull out, even before the UNISFA mission was fully implemented. And now Khartoum has said that that’s not true—they didn’t agree to that, that the UN misspoke. I wanted to know what’s your understanding of when they committed to pull out. And, two, what—in President Obama’s bilateral, what’s the place of Sudan. I mean last year it was quite high profile on his visit. Does it remain that? Does he think that things are better there than they were last year? And what’s he going to be doing here while he’s here on Sudan?

Ambassador Rice: Well, with respect to the redeployment of forces from the Abyei area, the two sides signed an agreement and made a commitment to withdraw those forces, in fact, earlier in the process than we are today, and certainly long before the full deployment of UNISFA.

So we think that redeployment is overdue and needs to be accomplished urgently. And any suggestion that that wasn’t in fact the agreement is belied by the document that both parties signed. Obviously, the United States remains very interested in, very committed to peace and security in Sudan, both the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, and we’re frankly quite concerned that many of the critical issues that need to be resolved between North and South remain unresolved. Many of the crucial aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement remain unresolved and unimplemented and that, in and of itself, has the potential to be a spark that could ignite underlying tensions.

We’re also very, very concerned by what is transpiring in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, where aerial bombardments, attacks on civilians and humanitarian crisis is continuing and intensifying. So that also is of concern, and, of course, we remain very much focused on what is transpiring in Darfur.

So there’s no diminution in the U.S. government’s focus on, or commitment to what transpires in Sudan. And as was mentioned today at the White House, President Obama will have the opportunity to meet briefly with President Salva Kiir of South Sudan during the United Nations General Assembly.

Reporter: There was a statement yesterday that Syria…[Inaudible]…Is President Obama going to discuss the situation in Syria…[Inaudible]

Ambassador Rice: The United States shares the Secretary-General’s outrage at what is transpiring in Syria, and that is why we’ve consistently taken very strong action against the Syrian authorities. We’ve condemned the ridiculous and excessive violence against civilians that continues today throughout the country.

And we’ve imposed very significant sanctions, bilaterally, against the Assad government, the individuals in it and elements of the economy which fuel the regime, including the energy sector and the financial sector. Obviously, this is high on our agenda and it is already and will continue to be an important topic of conversation for United States officials when they interact with their counterparts.

Reporter: …A question…the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, fostered by the U.S., has been fruitless for more than 20 years now. And the Palestinians, they’re coming to the UN to resolve things at the UN and the U.S. is blocking, in fact, their way. What do you think…

Ambassador Rice: …They haven’t come here yet, so let’s not get ahead of it. But let me just say this. It is true that negotiations have not yet yielded the outcome we all seek and desire. But it is also equally true that there is no other way to accomplish the establishment of a Palestinian state. There’s no magic wand. There’s no magic piece of paper, here or anywhere else, that, in and of itself, can create that outcome. As a practical, factual matter.

In order to achieve the creation of a Palestinian state with clear boundaries, with sovereignty, with the ability to secure itself and provide for its people, there has to be a negotiated settlement and that is why we’re continuing to make every effort to bring that about.

That is why we think that it is short sighted and counter-productive to try a means of short-circuiting that, because at the end of the day, the only way to change conditions in the real world for the people of Palestine and to create two states, living side-by-side in peace and security, is at the negotiating table.

Reporter: Two quick questions logistically. Do you believe the Palestinians have the nine votes in the Security Council they need to make a U.S. veto irrelevant? And B, the Palestinians seem to want this to happen very quickly. Do you—how fast do you expect this to happen? Does the U.S. want to delay it?

Ambassador Rice: I really am not going to get into speculating about the various ways this could come, on what timelines, in what form or fashion. If we’ve learned anything as we have focused very closely on this process, it is, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. So obviously we will wait and see.

I’m not going to predict today what exactly the vote count is, but I think there are more than one, and perhaps several members of the Security Council, who are skeptical about the timeliness of action in the Security Council.

Thank you very much.

 


Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Rice at a Security Council Meeting on the Situation in Libya

Through Resolution 2009, the Council has unanimously affirmed its willingness to support the Libyan people in their efforts to restore order and bring about democracy. In this resolution, as well as the General Assembly’s approval earlier today of the Transitional National Council’s credentials to represent Libya, we all stand witness to the birth of a new Libya.

This resolution responds directly to the requests from the Transitional National Council for international assistance during this period of change. We encourage the United Nations, including through its newly-established UN Support Mission in Libya, to develop a close and collaborative relationship with Libya’s new leaders. We look forward to the naming of a Special Representative of the Secretary General to lead the new mission, and we are encouraged by the Secretary-General’s determination to get UN personnel on the ground as soon as possible.

We wish to express our profound appreciation for the service of Special Envoy Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, and we look forward to continued close cooperation with post-conflict coordinator Ian Martin as he works with the TNC on transition issues in the days ahead.

The United States particularly welcomes the Council’s decision to scale back and modify the sanctions the Council imposed on Libya seven months ago in response to Qadhafi’s violence against his people.

As a result, the Libyan authorities will be able to reenergize the Libyan economy while some measures are kept in place to ensure that previously-frozen funds are released in a transparent and responsible way—as the situation normalizes and the transition proceeds—and are released in the interest of the people of Libya.

In the weeks and months and ahead, we hope that the Council, in close consultation with the new Libyan government, will respond to the situation on the ground by adopting further resolutions to provide support for the Libyan people.

As Libya begins this new era, the United States offers our very best wishes to the Libyan people, who suffered for many years under one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. We stand fully ready to assist Libya’s citizens in building a new society based on democracy, pluralism and the rule of law.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 


Ambassador Rice on the Credentialing of Libya’s Transitional National Council

Today, by an overwhelming margin, the UN General Assembly approved the credentials of the Transitional National Council to represent the people of Libya at the United Nations. The United States congratulates the Libyan people for this historic step forward. As Libyans chart a course towards a more inclusive and democratic future that respects and protects human rights, they will have a friend and partner in the United States. I look forward to working with Libya’s new UN Permanent Representative on areas of mutual interest as our nations forge a relationship founded on mutual respect.

The Libyan people still have much more work to do, but they also have the full knowledge that the international community, including the United States, stands ready to help their transition towards democracy, prosperity, and the rule of law. For many months, the international community has been inspired by the courage of the Libyan people. At the Secretary-General’s high-level meeting next week and in the months ahead, we will continue to support their brave and determined pursuit of a better future.

 


Ambassador Rice on the Release of Assets by the UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee

The United States welcomes the decision by the UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee to release $1.5 billion dollars in Libyan assets to meet the critical humanitarian needs of the Libyan people. Today’s action demonstrates the international community’s solidarity with the brave people of Libya at this historic moment.

The unprecedented international coalition built upon UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 prevented mass atrocities in eastern Libya, averted large scale killings of unarmed civilians, and avoided a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Yet this is not the end of Libya’s transition. It is the beginning. The United States will continue to work with our international partners to support the Libyan people as they chart a democratic, prosperous, and secure future for their country.

 


Statement by Ambassador Rice on the Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Southern Kordofan

The United States welcomes the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the increasingly dire situation in Southern Kordofan. We are deeply disturbed by the reports of extrajudicial killings, attacks on civilians, mass graves, arbitrary detentions, abductions, house to house searches, forced displacements, and other clear violations of humanitarian law. We strongly support Commissioner Pillay’s recommendations, including immediate, unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and ongoing human rights monitoring as well as for an independent inquiry to hold perpetrators of violence to account. We urge all members of the UN Security Council to join us in pressing for implementation of these recommendations.

 


Ambassador Rice Calls for More UN Action to Resolve the Crisis in Syria

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Assistant Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco, for your briefing. Mr. President, we face a grave and growing threat to international peace and security in Syria today. The Syrian people have moved the world with their aspirations for democracy and universal human rights. But the Asad regime has met their calls for change with cruelty and contempt. Asad has deliberately chosen to use repression and force against unarmed civilians. Thousands of innocent people have already been killed in cold blood, and countless more have been wounded, scarred, and maimed. The Asad regime’s crackdown has grown even bloodier in recent days, and anyone who still doubts the regime’s true character has only to look at the havoc and destruction it has unleashed in the streets of Hama and Deir al-Zour.

Last week, the Security Council finally came together to speak out clearly. Asad has plain international obligations to meet. He must immediately end the crackdown, stop using force against civilians, fully respect the Syrian people’s human rights, and comply with international law. He must heed the Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations and concerns and let them assemble freely, speak out without fear of reprisal, and exercise their fundamental freedoms. He must permit full and unfettered access to humanitarian agencies and workers and cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In failing to do so, Asad is not just ignoring the will of his own citizens. He is not just ignoring urgent calls to end the bloodshed from the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, regional leaders from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, and religious leaders such as the head of al-Azhar. He is also ignoring the tide of history. All across the Middle East and North Africa, brave men and women are standing up for the rights that all of us have but not all of us can exercise. Regimes that meet peaceful and legitimate demands with tanks, guns, and clubs will themselves lose all legitimacy.

The crisis in Syria has already rippled across the region. Refugees fleeing the Asad regime’s onslaught are huddled in Turkey. The Syrian government has risked wider violence by trying to provoke distractions along its frontiers with its neighbors. Asad has breached the most basic rules of diplomacy by sending thugs to attack diplomatic missions. And the Asad regime’s policies of repression and deep reliance on Iran increasingly risk dangerous spillovers of sectarian and other tensions into neighboring nations. We are particularly concerned by the continued flow of arms to Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said Friday that Turkey had intercepted a shipment of arms from Iran to Syria. We urge all states not to supply the Syrian regime with the arms it will surely turn on its own citizens.

The United States is working together with its international partners to bring greater pressure to bear on the Syrian regime through further coordinated diplomatic and financial measures. We are also working with our partners to stem the flow of the weapons and ammunition that Syrian security forces, under Asad’s authority, continue to use against peaceful protestors. Our Ambassador remains in Syria, where he will continue to speak out against the gross abuses being committed by the regime-and challenge the propaganda it continues to peddle even as it denies access to journalists, human rights groups, and international fact-finding missions.

Mr. President, we now face a growing crisis because of a handful of ruthless people who value their grip on power more than the lives of the Syrian people. Over and over again, Asad has refused to respond to the legitimate aspirations of ordinary Syrians. Over and over again, he has relied on torture, corruption, and terror rather than embracing democracy, liberty, and reform. Through his own actions and choices, Asad is ensuring that he and his regime will be left in the past. The brave people of Syria will determine their country’s future, and Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition is complete.

We commend the Secretary-General for his forthright denunciation of the regime’s violence and his plain conversation last weekend with Asad. We would like to see the UN take further steps to help resolve this crisis, including perhaps sending a senior UN official to Damascus. We support the idea of a briefing by the High Commission for Human Rights, and we remain determined to work with our fellow Security Council members to ensure that this Council meets its responsibilities.

 


Statement by Ambassador Rice on Steps Directed by President Obama to Prevent Mass Atrocities

Today, President Obama directed a thorough review to strengthen our national capacity to prevent mass atrocities. Crucially, the President will establish a new Atrocities Prevention Board with the authority and the policy tools to respond quickly to early warning signs and make recommendations before options narrow and the costs of both action and inaction rise precipitously. The President also expanded grounds to deny visas to serious human rights violators and war criminals and to isolate those who engage in or conspire to commit atrocities.

The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that no individual, now or in the future, sees a path to power in division and death. Moreover, in the enduring fight against mass atrocities, the United States will continue to enlist the contributions of all nations who know that in war, there must be rules; that, in the pursuit of power, there must be limits; that, even in a violent world, there must be rights; and that, when the embers of conflict threaten to ignite, we must be ready.

 


Remarks by Ambassador Rice on the Security Council Presidential Statement on Syria

Click here for the United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement on the Situation in Syria

Moderator: Ambassador Rice is on the line. Go ahead Ambassador.

Ambassador Rice: Thank you. This is an important and strong statement. It was long overdue. Finally we were able to speak with one voice in clearly condemning the violence perpetrated against civilians by the Syrian government and call for a halt to the violence and insist that what has transpired is utterly unacceptable, was an important step and we were pleased that the Council was able to do so today. Let me let you guys ask a couple of questions.

Reporter: Didn’t you want a resolution?

Ambassador Rice: Well obviously the sponsors began with a resolution. We strongly supported that. But as I said a few days ago when asked this, from the United States’ point of view, what was most important to us was strong content—and a clear and unified condemnation. We didn’t want a split Council and we didn’t want a weak statement. And as I said when we spoke about this on Monday, what was most important from a U.S. point of view was a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the Syrian authorities for the abhorrent and crazy violence they perpetrated against their own people. And we got that and so we’re pleased.

Reporter: What is your anticipation, Ambassador, that, what impact this will have on the Assad regime?

Ambassador Rice: Well I think the Assad regime has been counting on the fact that the Security Council would be unable to speak. And that they would not be condemned. And that they would have protectors and defenders that would make it impossible for that condemnation to emerge. And surely they must be quite surprised and disappointed by the outcome.

And hopefully, the people of Syria will get the sense that there are many in the international community, including in the Security Council, who are deeply concerned, profoundly troubled by the violence, who see their efforts and their peaceful protest as just. And the government will hopefully also be chastened by the strength and the unity of the condemnation. And obviously our over-arching goal, first and foremost, is for the violence to stop and the people of Syria to have the opportunity to chart their own course and have a democratic future.

Reporter: Why did the U.S. oppose the investigation?

Ambassador Rice: I couldn’t hear the question.

Reporter: Ambassador Rice, why did the U.S. oppose including an investigation into the violence in the statement?

Ambassador Rice: We felt it was important, basically, that people be held accountable. And that language was retained. We had some back and forth in the Council about whether it was, whether a statement about an investigation that did not make absolutely explicit that there would not be a role for the Syrian authorities in it was viable. We thought that it was preposterous, the original formulation that the Syrian government would be asked to conduct a credible and impartial investigation into its own behavior. We looked at some other formulations, none of which, in our judgment, were sufficient in excluding the Syrian government from any credible and impartial investigation in the current context.

So our interest was in being able to actively uphold international law, that their abuses are unacceptable and condemnable, and that those who have been responsible for the violence need to be held accountable.

Reporter: Could you tell us what concessions your side made to not have the violence equated by both sides and does the Lebanese…

Ambassador Rice: We didn’t make any concessions. We did not make any concessions. We negotiated and obtained a very strong, clear-cut condemnation. That’s a large part of the reason why we think this is a very strong outcome. And with respect to the Lebanese statement, the Lebanese allowed this Council to speak with one voice. It was a unanimous statement by the Security Council and we don’t view their statement after the fact as in any way undermining that unity.

 
 

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