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Geneva Consultations on Syria - 2015






UPDATES FOR CORRESPONDENTS

Show details for 28 December - Joint statement by the UN in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee28 December - Joint statement by the UN in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross
Show details for 26 December - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Special Envoy for Syria26 December - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Special Envoy for Syria
Show details for 11 December - International Syria Support Group meeting11 December - International Syria Support Group meeting
Show details for 24 November: Statement attributable to the spokesperson of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria24 November: Statement attributable to the spokesperson of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria
Hide details for 14 November - Statement of the International Syria Support Group14 November - Statement of the International Syria Support Group

Vienna, November 14, 2015

Meeting in Vienna on November 14, 2015 as the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States to discuss how to accelerate an end to the Syrian conflict. The participants began with a moment of silence for the victims of the heinous terrorist attacks of November 13 in Paris and the recent attacks in Beirut, Iraq, Ankara, and Egypt. The members unanimously condemned in the strongest terms these brutal attacks against innocent civilians and stood with the people of France.

Subsequently, the participants engaged in a constructive dialogue to build upon the progress made in the October 30 gathering. The members of the ISSG expressed a unanimous sense of urgency to end the suffering of the Syrian people, the physical destruction of Syria, the destabilization of the region, and the resulting increase in terrorists drawn to the fighting in Syria.

The ISSG acknowledged the close linkage between a cease fire and a parallel political process pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communique, and that both initiatives should move ahead expeditiously. They stated their commitment to ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva Communique in its entirety. The group reached a common understanding on several key issues.

The group agreed to support and work to implement a nationwide cease fire in Syria to come into effect as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards the transition under UN auspices on the basis of the Geneva Communique. The five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council pledged to support a UNSC resolution to empower a UN-endorsed cease fire monitoring mission in those parts of the country where monitors would not come under threat of attacks from terrorists, and to support a political transition process in accordance with the Geneva Communique.

All members of the ISSG also pledged as individual countries and supporters of various belligerents to take all possible steps to require adherence to the cease fire by these groups or individuals they support, supply or influence. The cease fire would not apply to offensive or defensive actions against Da’esh or Nusra or any other group the ISSG agrees to deem terrorist.

The participants welcomed UN Secretary General Ban’s statement that he has ordered the UN to accelerate planning for supporting the implementation of a nationwide cease fire. The group agreed that the UN should lead the effort, in consultation with interested parties, to determine the requirements and modalities of a cease fire.

The ISSG expressed willingness to take immediate steps to encourage confidence-building measures that would contribute to the viability of the political process and to pave the way for the nationwide cease fire. In this context, and pursuant to clause 5 of the Vienna Communique, the ISSG discussed the need to take steps to ensure expeditious humanitarian access throughout the territory of Syria pursuant to UNSCR 2165 and called for the granting of the UN’s pending requests for humanitarian deliveries. The ISSG expressed concern for the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons and the imperative of building conditions for their safe return in accordance with the norms of international humanitarian law and taking into account the interests of host countries. The resolution of the refugee issue is important to the final settlement of the Syrian conflict. The ISSG also reaffirmed the devastating effects of the use of indiscriminate weapons on the civilian population and humanitarian access, as stated in UNSCR 2139. The ISSG agreed to press the parties to end immediately any use of such indiscriminate weapons.

The ISSG reaffirmed the importance of abiding byall relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including UNSCR 2199 on stopping the illegal trade in oil, antiquities and hostages, from which terrorists benefit.

Pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communique, incorporated by reference in the Vienna statement of October 30, and in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118, the ISSG agreed on the need to convene Syrian government and opposition representatives in formal negotiations under UN auspices, as soon as possible, with a target date of January 1. The group welcomed efforts, working with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and others, to bring together the broadest possible spectrum of the opposition, chosen by Syrians, who will decide their negotiating representatives and define their negotiating positions, so as to enable the political process to begin. All the parties to the political process should adhere to the guiding principles identified at the October 30 meeting, including a commitment to Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character; to ensuring that State institutions remain intact; and to protecting the rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination. ISSG members agreed that these principles are fundamental.

The ISSG members reaffirmed their support for the transition process contained in the2012 Geneva Communique. In this respect they affirmed their support for a cease fire as described above and for a Syrian-led process that will, within a target of six months, establish credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, and set a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution. Free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months. Theseelections must be administered under UN supervision to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including the diaspora, eligible to participate.

Regarding the fight against terrorism, and pursuant to clause 6 of the Vienna Communique, the ISSG reiterated that Da’esh, Nusra, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council, and further, as agreed by the participants and endorsed by the UN Security Council, must be defeated. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan agreed to help develop among intelligence and military community representatives a common understanding of groups and individuals for possible determination as terrorists, with a target of completion by the beginning of the political process under UN auspices.

The participants expect to meet in approximately one month in order to review progress towards implementation of a cease fire and the beginning of the political process.


Show details for 6 November - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria6 November - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria
Hide details for 30 October - Vienna Communique on Syria30 October - Vienna Communique on Syria


    Meeting in Vienna, on October 30, 2015, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States [“the participants”] came together to discuss the grave situation in Syria and how to bring about an end to the violence as soon as possible.

    The participants had a frank and constructive discussion, covering major issues. While substantial differences remain among the participants, they reached a mutual understanding on the following:

    1) Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity, and secular character are fundamental.

    2) State institutions will remain intact.

    3) The rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination, must be protected.

    4) It is imperative to accelerate all diplomatic efforts to end the war.

    5) Humanitarian access will be ensured throughout the territory of Syria, and the participants will increase support for internally displaced persons, refugees, and their host countries.

    6) Da'esh, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the U.N. Security Council, and further, as agreed by the participants, must be defeated.

    7) Pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communique and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118, the participants invited the U.N. to convene representatives of the Government of Syria and the Syrian opposition for a political process leading to credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance, followed by a new constitution and elections. These elections must be administered under U.N. supervision to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, free and fair, with all Syrians, including the diaspora, eligible to participate.

    8) This political process will be Syrian led and Syrian owned, and the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria.

    9) The participants together with the United Nations will explore modalities for, and implementation of, a nationwide ceasefire to be initiated on a date certain and in parallel with this renewed political process.

    The participants will spend the coming days working to narrow remaining areas of disagreement, and build on areas of agreement. Ministers will reconvene within two weeks to continue these discussions.
Hide details for 2 October - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura2 October - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura

Today the UN had to suspend its planned humanitarian intervention as part of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement on Zabadani, Madaya, Fua, and Kefraya due to the recent surge of military activities in the concerned areas.

The UN team and humanitarian partners, in fact, had made all necessary preparations and were in place to immediately implement the humanitarian provisions of the agreement.

The Syrian population in these affected areas is waiting for this agreement to be implemented so that needed humanitarian assistance can be provided to end their long-standing suffering.

The UN calls on all concerned parties to fulfill their responsibilities in the protection of civilians and reach the necessary understandings in order to implement this agreement as soon as possible. The UN reaffirms its commitment to the protection of civilians and remains ready to assist.


Show details for 22 September - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria22 September - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria
Hide details for 13 September - Statement of the Special Envoy for Syria to the Ministerial meeting of the League of Arab State13 September - Statement of the Special Envoy for Syria to the Ministerial meeting of the League of Arab States


MR. STAFFAN DE MISTURA
Cairo, 13 September 2015

Mr. [President], Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, distinguished ministers,

1. It is with a great sense of responsibility that I address you today – for the first time in Cairo – about what has become the world’s largest humanitarian disaster and perhaps one of the most complex political and security challenges of our times. History will judge us. I have said this at every occasion – the scope, danger and threat of the Syrian tragedy should force all of us to leave no stone unturned in trying to end this bloodshed helping Syrians to set their country on a path to healing and reconstruction.

Mr. [President],

2. Let me take a moment to recall my Office’s efforts to-date before we can address the way forward. I took on this assignment a few months after the end of the Geneva II process and the departure of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, a person I respect a lot. At that time, the Secretary-General undertook a deep assessment of the situation in Syria. On 20 June 2014 he made a quite important policy speech to the Asia Society where he outlined six UN priorities on Syria.

3. He emphasised the importance of saving lives and protecting the most precious for the Syrians, the dignity of the Syrian people. He called for new efforts to start a serious political process for a new Syria, and use the roadmap offered by the Geneva Communique for that purpose. The Communiqué is the roadmap. He urged regional and international players to lend their support to his Envoy in this respect. The Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of accountability for serious crimes, which we all know are being committed in Syria – and one day serious crimes need to be considered in the context of accountability -, and of addressing the regional dimensions of the conflict, including the extremist threat.

4. Guided by these priorities, I started my mission last September. Very quickly it became clear to me, as it remained so for you, that the political complexities of the Syrian conflict are such that there was no prospect for any political process at that time, and we needed to break this sense and not give up. Regretfully, Syrian, regional and international players, despite continuously repeating their support for a political solution. Everybody wished me good luck, saying there could only be a political solution. But other agendas were being moved forward away from the negotiations table.

5. Meanwhile Daesh took advantage of the chaos in Syria, set roots and started to expand, as well as threaten the entire region and beyond. Many, across all the political divides around the Syrian conflict, agreed on the urgent need to halt Daesh. I had hoped that this new factor, the threat of Daesh, would be enough to have a proactive discussion on fighting terrorism and the need for a political solution, as the two aspects go together. It should not be one before the other.

6. I sincerely hoped then that this unity against a common enemy could be taken to the next level. I proposed the Aleppo Freeze. In that proposal, I was guided by only one objective – saving lives from being killed by a barrel bomb or a stray mortar or gas, giving hope. Many were skeptical and remain so. Where they were right to a certain degree was that any such initiative could not work absent a political horizon. I got that message. That sense of urgency for a political horizon only intensified as horrifying images of Daesh continued atrocities, aerial bombardment by the Syrian Government, rockets by armed opposition groups affecting civilians.

7. Against this background, back in March in Sharm el-Sheikh addressing the League of Arab States, the Secretary-General instructed me to intensify efforts towards a political process. There was no indication of anything new, but he felt it essential after five years of war, 20 years after Srebrenica and as the UN was celebrating its 70th anniversary. He asked me to consult broadly with Syrians, and told me to look around to come up with recommendations on how to operationalize the Geneva Communique. On 5 May, I rolled-out a process of separate meetings with Syrian, regional and international stakeholders. We did my best to talk to all who could share any valuable analysis , and ensure that no Syrian could say he or she had not been heard.

8. As a result of over [200] meetings, in early July, I reported back to the Secretary-General my own analysis. As requested, we put forth a way to operationalize the Geneva Communique. This is the famous paper that was leaked, referencing the TGB. But unfortunately there was not enough critical mass to support this. Then I presented a process, although I do not like the term because of MEPP connotations, but it is needed to work on non-controversial issues, and maintain the pressure for a real political dialogue, regionally and beyond.

9. The themes are not new, but they require a new way to address them. They can be the beginning of a discussion. They include: safety and protection for all Syrian people; military, security and counter-terrorism issues; political and legal issues (and these two must start together, avoiding, with all due respect, what has happened in Libya), and this also include the whole essence of the TGB; and maintaining state institutions. The Secretary-General further stressed that no effort could be successful absent the substantive support from the region and the international community, except if we have a contact group to put political pressure fro countries with and influence on the situation. The plan is to start the working groups, but not giving up establishing the contact group.

Mr. [President], Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, distinguished ministers,

10. The Security Council has since taken a constructive look at what can be done politically for with a feeling of urgency. As such in its Presidential Statement adopted on 17 August, the Council endorsed the UN proposals for a way forward and themselves “emphasize[d] the need for robust international and regional assistance”.

11. We are now in a new phase. There is a massive movement of refugees. There is a danger of further militarisation. We have a clear vision of the Security Council for a way forward, that includes progress on both the political track and the fight against terrorism, not one at the expense of the other. I have a clear task to make the thematic working groups happen and establish dialogue with the countries that have an influence – some of them are in this room.

12. Over the past two months, Deputy Ramzy and I have visited several capitals and engaged all the major Syrian interlocutors – and consultations continue to-date. We have worked out the internal organizational, but also conceptual, aspects of this next phase. From Cairo, I will have further discussions in Damascus and Istanbul to prepare the announcement of the working groups. We are ready to roll-out the working group process soon. But without a contact group we have no teeth.

Mr. [President],

13. I trust you have all noted the extensive media coverage of the exacerbating suffering in Syria. Barrel bombs, gas canisters and many other nasty weapons continue to be used on human beings in Syria. Thousands of years old world heritage artefacts are being blown up in pieces. Women, men, children, elders, doctors, farmers, engineers, teachers are running away from Syria. These are the middle class, those who can contribute to the future of Syria. Some of our humanitarian colleagues assess that only some 16 million people, out of 23 million originally, are now left in Syria – with several millions living in the Daesh-controlled area.

14. This situation is a defining humanitarian challenge of our times. It is now affecting Europe and has long been affecting the neighbourhood , which has been generously welcoming large numbers of refugees, such as in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. This requires us to move faster and to be more serious about helping the Syrians. Most importantly, we must share more effectively the burden of the humanitarian crisis - for which only 37% of the appeal has been covered so far -, many of you have been generous but if the Syrian people lose hope because of a harsh and cold winter ahead of them they will only be moving to more despration.

15. Things are also changing, including in this region. I hope that the forthcoming developments would help Iran engage its neighbours in order to provide together regional support for a political solution. We hope Iran’s neighbours would also reciprocate. The United States and Russia have also started to talk to each other more about Syria than before, but so far inconclusively. There will be more opportunities during the GA One must remember where the refugees come from. They are not fleeing a sudden rain or a terrorist group. They are leaving because of war.

Mr. [President],

16. Syria is at the heart of the Arab world. Today, Syria is bleeding. It has been for the past four years. I cannot but believe all of us have an interest – moral and political - to put an end to this human tragedy and political disaster.

17. A political solution to the Syrian problem – a very complicated one, I have never seen such a complex conflict in my career over four decades and twenty conflicts - cannot be resolved without active Arab participation. Almost every Syrian I have come across yearns for a unified country – they are proud of their country and they love it - in which its citizens, regardless of the religious or ethnic affiliation, live in freedom and dignity, but also a Syria that regains its historic position at the centre of the Arab world.

Mr. [President],

18. In sum, three new 'accelerators' have appeared on the scene: the advances of ISIL; the sudden / massive movement of refugees – which culd become more massive; and the potential military escalation, are all additional stimuli for a political process. The UN Secretary-General’s proposal includes two complementary tracks: (a) thematic working gorups in recognition that Syrians need to have their say on the Geneva Communique; and (b) a Contact Group in recognition of the regional and international dimensions of the conflict and their collective and individual responsibilities to see this conflict resolved. This will require the support of all around this table.

19. In concluding, I would lijke to invite all of us to observe a minute of silence in tribute to the martyrs of Syria. Many have died in Syria and in the Mediterranean, as symbolised by the picture of the child.

Thank you!
Show details for 10 September - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria10 September - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria
Show details for 1st September - Special Envoy for Syria met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Arab African Affairs of the Is1st September - Special Envoy for Syria met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Arab African Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran
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Within the framework of the Geneva Consultations, Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy met with Mr. Mohammad Marwan Al-Atrash and Mr. Habib Haddad from the Syrian Democratic National Block. They shared views on a political solution to the Syrian conflict. They also discussed with Mr. Ramzy the role of the international community and the United Nations in supporting Syrian efforts to end the conflict.

At the end of today’s meeting, Mr. Ramzy underscored the urgency of a Syrian-led political solution to the conflict. In this regard, he stressed the importance of efforts towards unity and consensus among opposition groups.


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In the framework of the Geneva Consultations, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, met today with a delegation from the Aga Khan Foundation, composed of Mr. Mohammad Wardeh, Mr. Mohammad Seifo and Mr. Ali Esmaiel. The delegation members discussed with Mr. de Mistura the situation on the ground and shared their perspectives for a political solution.

“Civil society organizations are an important element in conflict resolution, particularly their efforts to ensure that views and concerns of all parts of societies are addressed as they can bring the voice of people and communities on the ground,” Mr. de Mistura said at the end of his meeting. “This is why their contribution is critical for a sustainable political solution which would promote human rights, pluralism and democracy,” he added.

Geneva consultations are a rolling process to seek views of all Syrian and relevant regional and international parties on the operationalization of the Geneva Communiqué.
In this context, Mr. de Mistura continues to meet separately with Syrian actors from inside and outside Syria, as well as with concerned regional and international players.
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