Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Security Council Presidential Statement on Syria, Via Conference Call

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Washington, DC
August 3, 2011

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.


PRN: 2011/154