UNA-USA Voices Position for Potential Action on Syria
September 6, 2013
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a membership organization of individuals and organizations dedicated to inform, inspire, and mobilize the American people to support the ideals and vital work of the United Nations. For 70 years, UNA-USA has worked to accomplish its mission through its national network of Chapters, youth engagement, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. An abiding commitment to peace, embodied in the United Nations Charter’s pledge to, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” underpins fundamental aspects of UNA-USA’s mission and work.
1. HUMANITARIAN CRISIS:
- UNA-USA abhors the on-going and worsening human tragedy in Syria: more than 100,000 deaths, over 2 million refugees and displaced persons; violation of human rights; destruction of property and devastation of the economy. This disaster is exacerbated by the death and incapacitation of more than 1,000 innocent civilians in August 2013 – including many children & women – as a consequence of the use of chemical weapons.
- UNA-USA appeals to the U.S. Government (and American organizations) to help address the needs of the Syrian people to respond to the escalating humanitarian crisis through the continued support of aid and assistance both directly and through the relevant UN organizations and Specialized Agencies that provide humanitarian relief and development assistance to meet urgent human needs of the Syrian people.
2. END OF VIOLENCE/WARFARE:
- UNA-USA calls for a speedy resolution of violence and armed conflict in Syria that has caused death and destruction, displacement and despair, divisions and deprivation, and undermined human rights and meeting basic needs of the Syrian people. This warfare risks spreading violence and destruction into neighboring countries. Bearing in mind the important responsibility of the Security Council, as the UN Secretary-General noted in early September 2013 its members should, “unite to develop an appropriate response, should the allegations of chemical weapons use prove to be true. The Security Council has a duty to move beyond the current stalemate and show leadership. This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria; this is about our collective responsibility to humankind.”
- UNA-USA, in particular, supports caution and restraint about introducing additional military action by the U.S. Government, and calls for the fullest utilization of diplomatic, political, and non-violent means to halt the current war and internal violence in Syria. As the Secretary-General noted, “We must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict.”
- UNA-USA, urges all sides of the conflict, as well as the U.S. government and other nations considering action, to carefully weigh the high costs of military action in both human and monetary terms. In accord with decisions of the United Nations, UNA-USA calls upon all parties to the conflict, and in particular the Syrian government, to recognize the primary responsibility of governments to protect all populations within their boundaries.
3. CHEMICAL WEAPONS:
- UNA-USA calls on the United States and other Security Council members to give full support to the efforts of the UN and Arab League special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to convene a conference of all relevant Syrian and international parties, to negotiate without preconditions, and to press the Syrian parties to agree to a ceasefire, and to negotiate in good faith, a political compromise for Syria’s peaceful political transition.
- UNA-USA condemns the use of chemical weapons in any form and by any means: such weapons were banned in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 that were subsequently ratified by Syria, the U.S., and other UN member governments, and are officially in force as part of international law in Syria as well as its neighboring countries.
- UNA-USA calls for the U.S. government – acting in concert with other member governments of the United Nations — to strongly condemn the recent use of chemical weapons, and for governments to hold into account those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, including when used against fellow citizens and innocent civilians of the same country.
- UNA-USA appeals for the U.S. government to fully utilize the instrumentalities of the United Nations, and to take into account the results of any investigations, tests, or missions that those entities undertake, recognizing that these uniquely-endowed UN organizations were established by the U.S. and other UN member governments for the purpose of monitoring, inspecting, and reporting on the use of chemical weapons, and similarly for the development and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
- UNA-USA expresses its belief that the use of chemical weapons by any party in Syria –most egregiously when by the government – is in violation of the Geneva Conventions and a crime against humanity of particular urgency that demands justice; and UNA-USA advocates support for the use of the International Criminal Court as a venue for redress.
4. CRITICAL ROLE OF THE UN
- UNA-USA expresses its support for the early and enduring role that the UN has played in investigating and documenting atrocities to guide international action, working ceaselessly to find a non-military solution to the civil war through diplomacy and pressures, spearheading the largest-ever appeal to the international community to provide aid to the Syrian people, and directly meeting the humanitarian needs of millions of displaced Syrians both inside and outside of the country.
- UNA-USA expresses its support for full U.S. funding of its UN general obligation dues and peacekeeping assessment, as well as strong support for voluntary contributions to UNHCR, UNICEF, and the other UN funds and agencies that are playing a critical role in addressing this crisis, as they have demonstrated for decades, consistent with mandates repeatedly adopted by UN member governments. These contributions are essential for addressing critical challenges and supporting U.S. national interests in Syria and throughout the world. UNA-USA also expresses its confidence in UN peacekeeping as a critical tool for addressing global crises and thanks the administration for including funds in the president’s budget for a possible peacekeeping mission in Syria.