Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Press Gaggle outside the UN Security Council

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY, United States
July 16, 2012


Reporter: We were told that the Russian draft has been put in the blue. Will the Americans block it if it’s put to a vote?

Ambassador Rice: I don’t think there are nine votes for the Russian draft.

Reporter: Is there any way that you can conceive of a draft passing without being in Chapter VII?

Ambassador Rice: We think it’s very important that 18 months nearly into this conflict, with over a hundred on average people dying a day, this Council do something different to change the dynamic on the ground. Just last week, we had Kofi Annan report that Assad had committed yet again to halt immediately the use of heavy weapons. And what has happened in the interim? He has intensified the use of heavy weapons, and we have seen what happened in Traymseh. Clearly, continuing to do the same old thing is not working. The logic of the draft resolution that the British have tabled, which we strongly support, is that that there needs to be something new. There needs to be pressure applied under Chapter VII making it clear that the Annan plan and the Geneva outcome are now under Chapter VII and thus even more binding on the parties and that the Council is prepared to consider and to implement sanctions in a short period of time if nothing changes. The aim here—this resolution could have automatically triggered sanctions. The aim was to indicate to Assad that the time is up and he really needs to take these steps that he’s committed multiple times to do. And the fact of the matter is that the sole thing he has to do is the sole thing he’s committed to do repeatedly again and again—including just last week—

which is to stop the use of heavy weapons. He hasn’t done it. So, we think this resolution is the only one that makes any sense.

Reporter: But how can you pressure Assad when he knows that for sanctions to be enforced you will need another resolution, which the Russians might veto at that time?

Ambassador Rice: Well, the logic is, of course, if they agree to the draft that is tabled, then they would be committed to the same process that we are, but evidently that doesn’t seem to be the case at this stage.

Reporter: If the mission is allowed to expire, do you think—would you regret not having the mission on the ground in Syria?

Ambassador Rice: We’ve been very practical about this from the outset. The mission is not an end in itself. It is a means to implement the Annan Six-Point Plan, and regrettably, because there has never been a sustained ceasefire and never been a political process, there is no operative Annan plan to be implemented. So, the utility of UNSMIS in that context has always been and remains quite questionable. We would like to see UNSMIS able to do the job it was mandated to do, which is monitor a ceasefire and implement the Six-Point Plan. But because the government of Syria and the regime has refused to adhere to its commitments, that has not been possible. So, in that context it doesn’t seem that perpetuating a means—these monitors are confined in essence to their hotel rooms and not able to do what they’re doing, are really being hung out to dry. And the logic of the position that we’ve taken is, look, if we’re going to leave unarmed monitors and their civilian counterparts in the field, risking their lives every day—because even if they’re in a hotel room, they’re vulnerable to attack in this context—and we as a Council are not prepared to back up the mandate we gave them with the tools at our disposal—even to threaten sanctions not even impose sanctions under Chapter VII—then we’re leaving these guys hanging. It’s completely—not only ineffective, but it’s immoral.

Reporter: How does the ICRC announcement that the situation now is a civil war in Syria affects the negotiation—

Ambassador Rice: You mean negotiation in the Council?

Reporter: On UNSMIS because you’re sending monitors into a warzone officially.

Ambassador Rice: It was a warzone before.

Reporter: How about the arming of the two parties because now under humanitarian international law both parties have the right to use arms? So does that open the way for arming the—

Ambassador Rice: I’m not an international lawyer, Talal. I don’t want to get into—

Reporter: If there’s no mission and there’s no Chapter VII, what’s the Plan B? What other recourse does the international community have?

Ambassador Rice: Well, that’s exactly the right question to be asking those who want to do nothing but perpetuate the status quo. The status quo is leading to intensified civil conflict with real potential to spill over into the region. What we’re asking is that the Council do something different, that we apply meaningful pressure on the Assad regime to stop the use of heavy weapons, which is a critical first step to get any ceasefire going and to get any political process going. But if we do nothing, if we just perpetuate the status quo, then we are consigning Syria and the region to much-intensified conflict.

Reporter: What would you like Kofi Annan to tell the Russians?

Ambassador Rice: I think he just needs to tell the Russians what he’s already told the Council and what he’s put in writing and said orally: That he needs the Council to come together around a resolution that makes very clear that there are consequences for noncompliance. That’s precisely what he has said. He wants pressure. Read his letter that we received on Friday.
It’s exactly what he said to us. Read the Secretary-General’s letters and statements. That’s exactly what he said to the Council directly. Thanks guys.


PRN: 2012/161