I would like to thank Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and Ms Lubna Alkanawati for their presentations.
Switzerland joins the Special Envoy in following with interest the dynamics currently at work in the region. In particular, we welcome the first meeting of the Arab Liaison Committee and Syria, held in Cairo on 15 August, which follows on from the Amman, Cairo and Jeddah declarations of last May. We welcome the fact that the declaration issued at the end of this meeting makes clear reference to Resolution 2254 of this Council. We note that the Committee wishes to ensure good coordination with the United Nations, including in preparation for a forthcoming meeting of the Constitutional Committee. An early meeting of the Committee would be an important step in the “step-for-step” approach. Switzerland hopes that such a meeting will enable substantial progress to be made towards a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
Switzerland shares with the Special Envoy and Ms Alkanawati the sincere conviction of the centrality of the “women, peace and security” agenda in Syria. In accordance with Resolution 2254, Switzerland once again stresses the importance of the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of Syrian women in the political process. Throughout the country, civil society organisations – many of which are based on the voluntary commitment of women – play a key role in the search for lasting peace in Syria. In this respect, we welcome the close collaboration between the Office of the Special Envoy and the Civil Society Support Room (CSSR), a platform which ensures the broad participation of civil society in the political process and which currently includes 43% women. The CSSR ensures that women’s priorities and realities are taken into account on the ground and in the political process.
We note with concern the way in which the very deep humanitarian and socio-economic crises in which the country is currently immersed are affecting women. In this respect, it is essential to ensure access for humanitarian aid throughout the country. In addition, women are often subjected to forced and early marriages, or forced to operate in an informal labour market that exposes them to all sorts of abuses. In the worst cases, they find themselves unprotected against sexual and gender-based violence.
We call on all parties to the conflict throughout the country to respect their obligations and immediately put an end to all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights committed against civilians in Syria, including women. To this end, we reiterate our full support for the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry and to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, whose work is fundamental to the fight against impunity.
Finally, Switzerland remains very concerned about the precarious security situation in several areas of the country, where hostilities continue to affect the civilian population, having a disproportionate impact on women and girls. As Resolution 2254 and this Council have repeatedly emphasised, the imposition and respect by all parties of a nationwide ceasefire remains a priority measure to enable peace efforts and humanitarian assistance operations to be implemented. The Syrian people desperately need this.