Following days of protracted negotiations, the Security Council today adopted a compromise resolution extending the use of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria’s north-west for six months, leaving the door open for a subsequent six-month renewal, until 10 July 2023, pending the adoption of another resolution.
The Council’s adoption of resolution 2642 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2642(2022)) — by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (France, United Kingdom, United States) — follows the failure to pass either of two competing drafts on 8 July and expiration of the cross-border mandate on 10 July. This marks the only time in recent memory that disagreement among the organ’s 15 members has allowed for such uncertainty, triggering the convening of a formal General Assembly meeting on the situation in Syria within 10 working days. (See Press Releases SC/14963 and GA/12417.)
In adopting today’s resolution, the Council extended its previous authorization of the Bab al-Hawa crossing point on Syria’s border with Turkey, first laid out in paragraphs 2 and 3 of resolution 2165 (2014). Those authorizations apply only to Bab al-Hawa, and not to several other crossing points whose use was previously curtailed by the Council. A second six-month extension will require a separate resolution. In that regard, the Secretary-General is requested to provide a special report on humanitarian needs no later than 10 December.
Also by the text, the Council demanded the full and immediate implementation of all previous relevant resolutions. It called on Member States to address the urgent needs of Syria’s people, given the profound socioeconomic and humanitarian impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, describing Syria as a country in a situation of “complex humanitarian emergency”. It requested the Secretary-General to brief members monthly, providing regular reports, at least every 60 days, on the implementation of its resolutions and compliance by the parties.
“It is no secret that this has been a difficult negotiation,” said Ireland’s representative, who introduced the resolution jointly with Norway. Following the veto of last week’s draft, the co-sponsors redoubled their efforts to find a path that would allow humanitarians to continue to reach those in dire need. Throughout, Ireland and Norway have been guided solely by the needs of Syrians, she insisted, stressing that today’s text represents a “delicate balance between the different positions of Council members at this time”.
Describing their abstentions, the representatives of France, United Kingdom and United States stressed that needs in Syria are greater than at any other time and denounced the Council’s rejection of vociferous and repeated calls by United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners, who said a 12-month extension was needed maintain the smooth continuity of aid operations. On 8 July, “Russia stopped this from happening”, said the United Kingdom’s representative, leaving them in a cycle of prepositioning and contingency planning.
By ignoring these calls, added France’s delegate, the Council has not lived up to its responsibility. France will not finance reconstruction or lift sanctions until a credible and inclusive political process is firmly under way. Today’s vote “is what happens when one member takes the entire Council hostage with lives hanging in the balance”, the United States delegate stressed, noting that his delegation did not obstruct today’s vote because aid workers had acknowledged that a temporary extension was “better than nothing”.
To that reasoning, the Russian Federation’s delegate said it is time for Washington, D.C., London and Paris “to get used to respecting the interests of other States”, notably those impacted by the Council’s decisions. He called for increasing cross-line deliveries, a point echoed by China’s representative, who said that “ramming through a vote while major differences still exist” only intensifies differences. India’s delegate, meanwhile, agreed that the cross‑border mechanism cannot exist in perpetuity.
Offering the national perspective, Syria’s representative said the Government has facilitated the entry of many United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoys throughout Syria. This refutes any claims justifying the extension of the so-called cross-border mechanism, despite its temporary, exceptional nature that was imposed by circumstances that no longer exist. “What was achieved today could have been achieved days ago” but for the “political selfishness” of the three Western Council members, he said.
Also speaking today were representatives of Kenya (on behalf of the “E10” elected Council members), Norway, Albania and the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting began at 9:04 a.m. and ended at 9:46 a.m.