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Updated on 18 August 2015


Section 4:   Statements by the President


Dissociation by Venezuela from a presidential statement on Syria


At its 7504th meeting on 17 August 2015, the Security Council adopted presidential statement S/PRST/2015/15 supporting the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Syria.  At the beginning of the meeting, the Council President read the standard introductory paragraph for Statements by the President:  “After consultations among Council members, I have been authorized to make the following statement on their behalf”.  Then, after reading out the statement, the President gave the floor to the representative of Venezuela.


The representative of Venezuela remarked that “While it did not block the adoption of presidential statement S/PRST/2015/15 and joined in the consensus”, his delegation did not subscribe to paragraphs 8 and 10 of the statement, and was dissociating from them.  It was his delegation’s belief that those two paragraphs violated “the sovereignty and the right to self-determination of the Syrian people by promoting its political transition, including the establishment of a transitional Government, without its consent”.  He added that establishing such a transitional Government in Syria “with full executive powers would violate the principles” of the UN Charter, as well as respect for the self-determination of people, and therefore represented “a very dangerous precedent for international peace and security”.  Nonetheless, the representative of Venezuela stressed his country’s “full support for the diplomatic efforts of the Special Envoy”. 


This was the first case of a dissociation from a presidential statement by a Council member since 3 August 2011.  On that date, after the adoption of a presidential statement on the situation in Syria, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Lebanon took the floor.  She first quoted Lebanon’s Permanent Representative as having previously affirmed that “What takes place in Lebanon affects Syria, and what takes place in Syria affects Lebanon.”  She then stated, “As Lebanon believes that presidential statement S/PRST/2011/16 adopted today does not help to address the current situation in Syria, Lebanon disassociates itself from the statement”.


Other dissociations took place in the 1970s.  In 1973, China dissociated itself from a presidential statement on the composition of the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East.  In 1974, China dissociated itself from a presidential statement on the situation between Iran and Iraq.  Then in 1976 and 1977, three cases of dissociation from a presidential statement occurred when the Council adopted presidential statements related to the renewing the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force.  In all three cases, the Council President noted that he had been asked by Benin, China, and Libya to state that they had not participated in the vote on the related resolution, and that “they take the same position with regard to the statement which I have just read out on behalf of the members of the Council”.  At three further meetings on the same matter held in 1978 and 1979, the President made a similar declaration concerning the position of China. 


In all of the cases from the 1970s, a note concerning the dissociations was printed on the text of the presidential statement itself when each was published as an official Council document (see, for example, S/13362).  This was not the case for the 2011 dissociation by Lebanon and the 2015 dissociation by Venezuela.


What is unique concerning the dissociation by Venezuela is that it applied only to two paragraphs of the presidential statement at issue, whereas in all the other cases, each dissociation applied to a presidential statement in its entirety. 


It is clear from all of the past cases that on no occasion did a dissociation have the effect of invaliding a presidential statement, although such statements require the consensus of all 15 Council members in order to be adopted.  Accordingly, it can be seen that a dissociation is the registering of a political reservation which does not impair consensus.  This point was spoken to directly by the representative of Venezuela when he underscored that while his delegation had dissociated itself from paragraphs 8 and 10, it had demonstrated a “constructive spirit” in not preventing the adoption of the presidential statement. 


(This update supplements pages 398-400 of the book.)



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