Hidden internal directive on Syria that got no UNSC approval DOES exist – Russian Foreign Ministry
The document in question is entitled 'Parameters and Principles of UN Assistance in Syria,' the ministry wrote in a statement to RT. It was issued by the UN Secretariat in October 2017 and provides guidelines for the UN agencies and programs in their work with the war-torn country.
The Secretariat issued the paper without requesting consent or even consulting the UN Security Council or the UN member states, at least on an official level, the ministry noted, adding that the "guidelines" document still "penetrates deeply" into the political situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, thus "going beyond the issue of simple coordination between the UN structures."
One particular provision of the document explicitly states that the UN "would be ready to facilitate reconstruction" in Syria only "once there is a genuine and inclusive political transition negotiated by the parties." The Russian ministry described it as an apparent attempt to prevent the international organization from contributing to Syria's recovery under the current circumstances, while enforcing a "politicized approach of the countries advocating a regime change."
The directive also implicitly restricts the UN agencies’ cooperation with Damascus, the ministry said, adding that the text of the document says that "UN assistance must not assist parties who have allegedly committed war crimes or crimes against humanity." The US and its allies in the West have repeatedly accused the Syrian government of various violations of international law and particularly blamed them for chemical weapons incidents that took place on Syrian soil. No hard evidence has ever been presented to substantiate those claims, while the West ignored relevant data provided by the Russian military operating in Syria.
"If some influential [UN] donors believe that … it is time to toughen the sanctions regime against Syria, it does not necessarily mean that the UN agencies should be guided by the same irresponsible approach," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement, expressing its hope that the UN Secretariat will review its methods as Syria's need for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction aid grows, not least due to an increasing number of refugees returning home.
The issue of an alleged "secret directive" having been distributed by the Secretariat throughout the UN system in October 2017 was first raised by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday. He did not name the document but said that it "prohibited the agencies… from participating in any kind of projects aimed at restoring the Syrian economy" until a "political transition" there.
Lavrov also linked the release of the directive with the "absolutely deconstructive" stance of the US on the issue of Syria's reconstruction. The next day, the office of the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general denied the existence of any such document by saying that neither its department of political affairs nor any other UN entity had issued a "secret directive" on Syria.
Meanwhile, the 'not secret' but rather hard-to-find document mentioned by the Russian Foreign Ministry apparently indeed exists: It was briefly mentioned on an official UN website in a temporary job description. However, the text of the document has never been officially made public by any UN agency.
However, a supposed copy of the text of the directive, entitled 'Parameters and Principles of UN Assistance in Syria' and dated October 2017, was included as an annex in another paper published by the Global Protection Cluster – a structure directly linked to such UN agencies as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). This document is still available online.
After declaring its commitment to the UN Charter and the Security Council resolutions, the document indeed states that any UN aid to the reconstruction efforts would be possible only following "political transition." It also states the UN work should de-facto focus on basic humanitarian assistance only, while any "development and reconstruction activities that are outside this will need to be reflected in other frameworks that are by nature a longer negotiation with governments."
The paper also openly states that the UN "will not promote the return of refugees." Apart from prohibiting cooperation with "parties who have allegedly committed war crimes or crimes against humanity," the guidelines also state that assistance must be "prioritized based on the needs of the population (rather than government-driven)," in what might be potentially considered an indirect attempt to limit the UN agencies' cooperation with the Syrian government.
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