Damascus does not accept the holding of a donor conference on Syria in Brussels without the participation of a delegation from the Syrian government, the chosen format violates the foundations of the UN charter, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
“The Syrian Arab Republic expresses its disapproval of holding that Conference without the invitation of the Syrian government which is the side concerned in the Syrian people’s affairs and the main partner of the UN,” the ministry said in a letter sent to the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General, as quoted by state agency SANA.
The Syrian foreign ministry stressed that the participation of the UN in this conference without the government of the state, which is directly concerned, is a clear violation of the foundations of the UN Charter, which calls on everyone to respect the sovereignty and independence of Syria, the integrity and security of its territories.
During the Tuesday event, the United Nations called on the international community to collectively help end the war in Syria.
“After a decade of war, many Syrians have lost confidence that the international community can help them forge an agreed path out of the conflict. I am convinced that we still can, along with the Syrian parties themselves,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message during the fifth Brussels Conference.
At the Middle East Conference of the Valdai Discussion Club on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the fifth EU-UN donor conference for Syria was held in violation of international humanitarian law, given that it took place without participation of Damascus.
He noted Guterres said “the right things”, but expressed wonder as to why the UN did not send any representatives to the conference that were dedicated to returning refugees, apart from a monitor. The Russian top diplomat said it was another perfect example of “double standards.”
“The Brussels conference — which focused on raising funds primarily for assisting refugees' staying in camps across Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and on assisting people staying in areas that are not controlled by the Syrian government — was initially convened with gross violations of the international humanitarian law, under which such issues should be settled through direct contact with the government of the country. These are double standards," Lavrov said.
The civil war in Syria has been ongoing since 2011, with President Bashar Assad's forces fighting against various insurgent and terrorist groups. Moscow has been active in attempting to facilitate the peace process between various factions in the conflict, as well as assisting the country's return to normal life, disrupted by hostilities.
According to data published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 6 million people are displaced within Syria, and as many as 6.6 million Syrians have fled the country as refugees since 2011.