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Tim Kaine urges UN action to address Syria crisis

kaine new2In a letter to united nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern, South and Central Asian Affairs, called for urgent action to halt the deteriorating humanitarian situation inside syria and full implementation of united nations Security Council Resolution 2139.

Kaine believes the UN has authority under international law to organize a robust and aggressive cross border assistance effort to reach those in need inside syria.

“While I support the pursuit of a Chapter VII resolution, which I believe further exposes to the world Bashar al-Assad’s protectors and apologists, I believe the UN already has the authority to act,” stated Kaine. “Continued inaction will only undermine the legitimacy and reputation of the UN.”  Kaine also urged that those involved in human rights violations be brought to justice, chief among them Bashar al-Assad.

Last month, Kaine and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio spearheaded the unanimous passage in the Senate of the Syrian Humanitarian Resolution of 2014 (S. Res. 384), which among other things calls for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2139, and asks the Administration to submit to Congress a comprehensive and robust strategy to address the Syrian humanitarian crisis.

May 2, 2014
His Excellency Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the united nations
united nations Secretariat
New York, NY

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

I write to urge immediate action by all instruments of the united nations to organize large-scale cross border humanitarian assistance to those in need inside syria. While I support the pursuit of a Chapter VII resolution, which I believe further exposes to the world Bashar al-Assad’s protectors and apologists, I believe the UN already has the authority to act. Based on the opinion of prominent international lawyers, the UN currently has the mandate and legal authority to organize a large coalition of international NGOs poised to deliver humanitarian aid to all areas of syria. Anything short implies complicity with the Syrian government’s continued violations of the basic principles of international law, and is shameful.

Two months after the adoption of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), UN aid chief Valerie Amos briefed the Security Council that none of the parties to the Syrian conflict have complied with or implemented the demands of the resolution. On top of the 150,000 fatalities and the more than 2.7 million refugees, 9 million people inside syria require urgent assistance, and nearly 3.5 million people have no access to essential goods and services. Over 200,000 people are currently under siege by regime forces. Thousands of men, women, and children are being denied access to basic medical supplies, and polio is killing children because of vaccine denial. Aerial bombardment of civilian areas continues, including regime forces bombing an elementary school on Wednesday killing nearly two dozen children. The regime is reportedly using chlorine as a chemical weapon to attack civilians, and withholding stocks of sarin gas in violation of the U.S.-Russia brokered chemical weapons agreement. Extremist groups are conducting public crucifixions. The overall security situation in syria is dire and humanitarian access is deteriorating. I strongly support efforts to bring all those who are violating basic humanitarian rights to justice, including the chief perpetrator – Bashar al-Assad.

It is time for the international community, led by the UN, to put a stop to these horrific trends.  To date, the United States has provided more than $1.7 billion in humanitarian aid, reaching more than 4.2 million people inside syria and the more than 2.7 million refugees in neighboring countries. The United States Congress has supported this effort, but we all know more needs to be done. I believe there is an unequivocal right under international humanitarian law for the UN to deliver cross border assistance, and 2139 reinforces this. I urge you to endorse this interpretation and make the case to the members of the Security Council.

Since the United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance in the world, I intend to push strongly for the disbursement of those relief funds in a way that ensures aid will reach the people most in need, including across borders. I support conversations with other like-minded countries to explore ways within the UN structure, or outside of it, to ensure more cross border aid is delivered. I also call on the UN to involve NGOs in discussions related to the planning of aid convoys, aid delivery mechanisms, and implementation of 2139.

To complement 2139, I, along with many of my Senate colleagues, introduced the syria Humanitarian Assistance Act of 2014 in the United States Senate. Among other things, the resolution calls for the full implementation of 2139. It passed the Senate unanimously. While there might be controversy in the United States over the use of military force in Syria, there is clear agreement about the need for humanitarian aid. I recognize all the work the UN and the international community has done to date to help the Syrian people, but more must be done immediately. Continued inaction undermines the legitimacy and reputation of the UN.  Assad’s actions make a mockery of 2139.  I stand ready to assist you in this effort. The status quo is intolerable.

Tim Kaine
United States Senator

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