What's In Blue

Syria: Vote on Second Draft Resolution on Cross-Border Humanitarian Access

This evening (8 July) the Security Council will announce the results of a vote on a draft resolution authorising cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access in Syria. The draft resolution in blue, which was circulated yesterday by the Russian Federation, is the second resolution on the Syria cross-border and cross-line mechanism to be voted on over the last two days.  It comes as a result of yesterday’s failure to adopt the draft resolution tabled by the humanitarian penholders (Belgium and Germany), which was vetoed by both Russia and China. It seems that several members do not support the Russian-sponsored draft resolution and that it is unlikely to garner the nine votes necessary to be adopted.

The current draft in blue would re-authorise only one border crossing, Bab al-Hawa, for a period of six months, a formula that Russia has advocated during recent negotiations on the cross-border aid delivery mechanism. In addition, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide a report by the end of August on the “direct and indirect impact of unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria on its socio-economic situation and humanitarian deliveries from outside Syria”, which is a reference to sanctions on Syria, an issue that both Russia and China have been highlighting over the last several months.

The Russian draft contrasts with the penholders’ draft resolution that failed to be adopted yesterday. That draft called for re-authorisation of the border crossings at Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa for 12 months (until 10 July 2021). It further requested the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council by the end of August 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on the need for and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, throughout Syria, including in Syria’s north-east, through the most direct routes. For more information on the negotiations on the penholder’s draft, please see our What’s in Blue article from 7 July.

The UN cross-border aid delivery mechanism was established by resolution 2165 (2014), and its mandate was renewed most recently until 10 July 2020 in resolution 2504 of 10 January. Resolution 2504—adopted after contentious negotiations by a vote of 11 in favour, none against, and four abstentions (China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States)—re-authorised two border crossings (Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa on the Syria/Turkey border) for six months, but did not re-authorise two other crossings that had previously been in the mandate: al-Ramtha (Syria/Jordan border) and Al Yarubiyah (Syria/Iraq border).

Voting on the current draft in blue began yesterday (7 July) at 17.30 and was set to close today at 17.30. The announcement of the results is expected at 18.30 today. Under an agreement reached on 27 March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic Council members submit their votes to the Security Council Affairs Division through written adoption procedures.

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