Yesterday afternoon the Security Council unanimously passed a strongly worded statement calling for greater humanitarian access inside Syria. 

The statement urges Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities to “take immediate steps to facilitate the expansion of humanitarian relief operations, and lift bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles.”

This includes “promptly facilitating safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need, through the most effective ways, including across conflict lines and, where appropriate, across borders from neighboring countries.”

The statement was based on a wish list that Amos sent the council last month. Amos has said some cross-border aid deliveries were already being made from Lebanon.

A resolution would have been better in the sense that its dictates are legally binding. But this statement carries important political weight. It was agreed to by Russia meaning that in theory Russia has an interest in seeing the provisions called for in the statement implemented. We should know in a few days whether or not the Syrian government intends to abide, and that of course would be the most significant effect of this statement on the ground.

But this statement is also evidence that Security Council unity on the chemical weapons resolution is providing momentum for diplomatic progress on other areas of concern on Syria. If that unity can be preserved we may be inching closer to the point where the Security Council can contribute positively to an international diplomatic resolution to the Syria civil war.

We are still a long way off from that point, but yesterday’s action at the council is step in the right direction. It demonstrates that Security Council unity on one aspect of the Syria crisis can have beneficial knock on effects.  Now, it is incumbent on the Council to harness that unity to work toward a diplomatic solution to this civil war.

 

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