Photo: Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Kazakh Permanent Representative to the UN, addressing the Security Council. Credit: Kazinform - Photo: 2018

Air Strikes in Syria Perturb Host of Astana Peace Process

By Santo D. Banerjee

NEW YORK (IDN) – Kazakhstan, host to eight rounds of Syria peace talks in its capital city of Astana until December 2017, has warned against further military escalation in the wake of air strikes conducted by the United States, France and UK, adding that “whatever action taken under whatever good pretext can’t and will not justify the military use of force.”

Kazakhstan is the first Central Asian country to be elected to the Security Council as non-permanent member for a two-year period (2017-2018). It was also the first Central Asian state to chair the Council in January 2018.

Addressing the Security Council on April 14, Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Permanent Representatives of Kazakhstan to the UN in New York, said: “We call on all parties to prevent further military escalation and take effective steps aimed at restoring confidence, establishing peace and ensuring security in the long suffering land of Syria on the basis of the UN Charter and the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.”

“Every time when we observe the increasing tensions in this chamber,” Kazinform quoted him saying, “we call to act responsibly in accordance with the UN Charter and international law. Who else if not the Council Members should show to the world an example of compliance with the principles and provisions of the Charter?”

Earlier in the day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres also stressed the importance of abiding by the UN Charter. He said: “As Secretary-General of the United Nations, it is my duty to remind Member States that there is an obligation, particularly when dealing with matters of peace and security, to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law in general.”

The UN Charter is very clear on these issues, he told the Security Council. Emphasizing that the 15-nation Council [in which five permanent members can veto a decision and stall any action] has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. He called on the members of the Council to unite and exercise that responsibility.

Urging all Member States to show restraint “in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate matters and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people,” Guterres stressed the need to “avoid the situation from spiralling out of control.”

Any use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. The suffering it causes is horrendous, he added, referring to the alleged resort to banned chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

Kazakh Permanent Representative Umarov said: “Whatever action taken under whatever good pretext can’t and will not justify the military use of force. Violence against violence will never bring peace and stability.” Kazakhstan’s position, he added, has always been and continues to be that military action is the last resort to be applied only in cases approved by the UN Security Council.

“The time has come for Syrian talks encouraging the United States and the Russian Federation given their standing as the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group and their respective influence on the parties to move actively in the direction of finding a middle ground and political settlement of the conflict in Syria.”

The UN has a vital role in convening those negotiations and helping the parties resolve their disputes, Umarov added in a bid to remind the two superpowers of their responsibility for peace and security in the region.

“Humanity hopes that the 21st century would herald a new era of global cooperation. This, however, may turn out to be a mirage. Our world is once again in danger and the risks cannot be underestimated. The threat is a deadly war on a global scale. Our planet is now on the verge of the new Cold War which could have devastating consequences for all humankind,” Umarov said quoting from the Manifesto of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, entitled The World. The 21st century, presented on March 31, 2016.

“And just yesterday Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres confirmed to us, to our regret, that the Cold War is back with a vengeance,” Umarov noted.

President Nazarbayev in his Manifesto stressed that the main tool for resolving all disputes between the States should be only peaceful dialogue and constructive negotiations on the basis of equal responsibility for peace and security, mutual respect and non-interference into domestic affairs, explained Umarov.

“Avoiding any escalation and ending any sort of wars are the most challenging task which has no reasonable alternative. This task has to be treated by the world leaders as their highest priority on the global agenda. We also have to respect the sovereignty of states that are Member States of the UN. We urgently need a political solution.”

Kazakhstan, said Umarov, urges the international community to exert political will to overcome differences and reunite in negotiations believing that only the UN-led political transition in accordance with the Council Resolution 2254 could lead the way out of the Syria conflict which in turn could only advance if the Council is united.

He further stressed that in order to see positive outcomes there is a strong need to continue supporting the aims of the Astana talks and further Geneva negotiations.

The Kazakh Permanent Representative implored all parties at the international, regional and Syrian level to “support an immediate ceasefire and seriously and objectively move forward without any preconditions within the framework of the International Syrian Support Group under the auspices of UN in Geneva.”

Umarov urged all relevant parties to persist in diplomatic efforts, seek political solutions, stick to dialogue and support the UN as the main mediation channel. Kazakhstan, he declared, is “ready to work with all colleagues to preserve peace and security on the basis of mutual understanding, good will and determination to make the world a safer place.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 15 April 2018]

Photo: Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Kazakh Permanent Representative to the UN, addressing the Security Council. Credit: Kazinform

IDN is the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate –

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