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Geneva Consultations on Syria - 2015






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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
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Show details for 30 October - Vienna Communique on Syria30 October - Vienna Communique on Syria
Show 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
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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Hide details for 29 July - Remarks by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the situation in Syria29 July - Remarks by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the situation in Syria

New York, 29 July 2015


After more than four years of slaughter, the Syrian conflict is a shameful symbol of the international community’s divisions and failure.

I am profoundly disappointed that this Council’s resolutions on Syria have not been implemented – neither on ending the violence nor on easing humanitarian suffering or combatting terrorism and foreign fighters.

Syria is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, as you heard yesterday in harrowing detail from
the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

At least a quarter-million Syrians have been killed.

Almost half the country’s people -- 12 million men, women and children -- have been forced to flee their homes. In a massive cross-border exodus, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq are hosting an ever growing number of refugees, and increasing numbers of Syrians [are] making desperate flights across the Mediterranean in so-called “death boats”.

Atrocious crimes are now almost an hourly occurrence, fed by a lack of accountability for the major human rights violations committed over the past four years and through decades of repression.

The Syrian people have been exposed to chemical weapons, which should have been relegated to the past – and to new, indiscriminate killing devices such as barrel bombs and hell cannons.

The conflict has given rise to terrorist groups such as Da’esh and Al Nusra Front, and fuelled sectarianism and radicalization throughout and beyond the region.

And funding for humanitarian activities continues to be outpaced by the gargantuan and ever-growing scale of needs.

The situation is a clear threat to international peace and security that should compel us all to consider what more we can do to end the carnage and uphold our responsibilities.

It was in this context that on 28 March I instructed my Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, to intensify efforts by the United Nations to find a political settlement to the conflict. Specifically, I asked him to work to operationalize the Geneva Communiqué.

The Security Council unanimously endorsed the Geneva Communiqué in its resolution 2118. The document contains principles and guidelines to end the violence and launch a Syrian-led political process leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

The Communiqué remains the only internationally agreed basis for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, and was the foundation for recent initiatives such as the Cairo and Moscow processes.

Mr. de Mistura will brief you on his consultations. I would like to highlight four key points.

First, Mr. de Mistura’s description of the state of the Syrian crisis is a synthesis of what we heard from an inclusive and representative group of Syrian and non-Syrian stakeholders.

Second, amidst gaping fault lines, there are points of consensus upon which a credible political process can be constructed.

Syrians and external actors alike possess a shared sense of concern regarding the threshold that the conflict has now reached.

No one wants to risk the chaos of an uncontrolled transition in Damascus. All reject a future Syria divided along sectarian lines. Many Syrians warned that the country is entering a cycle of fragmentation and radicalization from which it will be hard to exit.

Our Syrian interlocutors also lamented that their country is caught in a regional proxy war that is beyond Syrians’ ability to resolve by themselves.

Almost all pointed to an urgent need for the international community to act now if we want to save and preserve what is left of Syria. As the situation deteriorates, Syrians predict that the prospects for achieving a political solution will also recede.

Third, the Syrians with whom we spoke share many of the same aspirations.

They want to protect the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, and to determine their own future free from external intervention.

They consider it impossible to return to the past.

They reject violent extremism and terrorism, and support a non-sectarian, multi-confessional and inclusive society.

And they yearn to build a genuinely democratic Syria based on human rights and the rule of law.

Fourth and finally, the consultations made clear that the major stumbling block in the political process remains the issue of forming a Transitional Governing Body, or TGB, with full executive powers that can create a suitable environment and safety for all during the transition.

The TGB is the top priority for the opposition, while the Syrian government has told us that such an institution would be unconstitutional.

Although difficult, these are not insurmountable obstacles and differences. Mr. de Mistura will therefore present a proposal to launch a political process aimed at enabling Syrians to negotiate a framework agreement on how to implement all aspects of the Geneva Communiqué.

The main goal of these preparatory negotiations will be to reach intra-Syrian agreement on the elements of the Geneva Communiqué, including on the issue of the TGB, as well as to effectively fight terrorism.

I stand ready to convene a high-level international conference to endorse any recommendations or agreement that this Syrian-led political process may reach.

The status quo in Syria is unacceptable. Some argue that we must wait to end this nightmare until there is a more propitious alignment of regional and international circumstances. This would be both immoral and irresponsible.

We must not condemn the Syrian people to even deeper despair. We must not condemn the region to unending turmoil.

Today I ask the Security Council to endorse Mr. de Mistura’s recommendations and work with the Syrian parties to convince them to participate constructively in this proposed process.

Just as important, the Council has a responsibility to support the political process by acting to de-escalate the conflict.

We must ensure that these preparatory negotiations are meaningful and not cynically exploited as a license to continue the killing.

I urge the Security Council, Syria’s neighbours and regional sponsors of the Syrian parties to stem all flows of arms and foreign fighters pouring into the country.

While ending the bloodshed remains primarily the responsibility of the Syrian parties, especially President Bashar al-Assad, there is much that the region and the international community can do to starve the fire of its fuel.

We must also build on the political momentum that has been generated by the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries. The unity that generated that agreement can help point the way towards conflict resolution in Syria and greater stability across the region.

For the moment, the greatest obstacle to ending the Syrian war is the notion that it can be won militarily. It is our failure to act with a unified voice that perpetuates this harmful illusion and allows the Syrian parties to think that there is some alternative other than coming to the negotiating table.

Today, Mr. de Mistura and I will outline a way forward to reach the political solution that all claim to support. I urge you to give this proposal your full support. If you do not, the world expects this body to present a viable alternative.

Thank you.

Show details for 29 July - Special Envoy for Syria briefs Security Council on the situation in Syria
29 July - Special Envoy for Syria briefs Security Council on the situation in Syria

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Within the framework of the ongoing Consultations on Syria, Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura visited the State of Qatar where he met with the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Mohammad Bin Abdullah Bin Mutib Al Rumaihi on 12 July 2015.

On the same day, he visited the United Arab Emirates where he met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Throughout his discussions, the Special Envoy noted once again the need for starting a process leading to a political solution to the Syrian crisis through constructive dialogue.

Mr. de Mistura will continue his consultations with Member States in the region in the coming few days.

13 July 2015, Geneva
في إطار المشاورات الجارية بشأن سوريا، زار المبعوث الخاص ستيفان دي ميستورا دولة قطر حيث التقى مع مساعد وزير الخارجية للشؤون الخارجية السيد محمد بن عبد الله بن متعب الرميحي في تاريخ 12 يوليو 2015.

وفي اليوم نفسه، زار دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة حيث التقى مع وزير الخارجية الشيخ عبدالله بن زايد آل نهيان.

أشار المبعوث الخاص مرة أخرى خلال مناقشاته على الحاجة الماسّة لبدء عملية تؤدي إلى حل سياسي للأزمة السورية من خلال الحوار البناء.

وسيواصل السيد دي مستورا مشاوراته مع الدول الأعضاء في المنطقة في الأيام القليلة القادمة.

13 يوليو 2015، جنيف
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FIVE WEEKS INTO THE GENEVA CONSULTATIONS

Special Envoy de Mistura is continuing meetings with a broad spectrum of Syrian, regional and international interlocutors within the framework of the Geneva Consultations. Since 5 May 2015, Mr. de Mistura and Deputy Special Envoy Ramzy have met so far with representatives of the Syrian Government, the Syrian opposition Coalition and 39 Syrian political and civil society groups. They have also held 26 meetings with representatives of concerned Member States from the Security Council and the region, as well as regional organizations. This process is expected to continue into July 2015.

Mr. de Mistura reiterates his sincere hope and belief that guns will fall silent one day. It is inevitable, as has been seen in other conflicts. The sooner they fall silent, the more lives will be saved. It is the responsibility of all Syrian, regional and international actors to try to bring that day forward and to make every effort to protect civilians under any circumstances and at all times. This is particularly relevant to the unacceptable use of barrel bombs. Mr. de Mistura stresses that there is a general consensus that there cannot be a military solution to the Syrian tragedy. The use of force will only create further suffering, destruction and grievances. An inclusive and Syrian-led and owned political solution is urgently needed. Only such a solution can address the aspirations of the Syrian people and end the conflict in a sustainable manner.

The Geneva Consultations remain a rolling process of separate and informal meetings aimed at operationalizing the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012. In the coming weeks, the Special Envoy intends to brief the Secretary-General on his findings from this process. Special Envoy de Mistura hopes to be in a position to present to the Secretary-General views on ways to help the Syrian parties reach a political solution, as per the Geneva Communique, to end the unacceptable bloodletting in their country, which has led to countless deaths and injuries, and destruction of cities, towns and villages.

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In a press statement issued on 30 May, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, strongly condemned the death of at least 70 civilians in Syria's northern Aleppo province by barrel bombs dropped from government helicopters. "The news of aerial bombing by Syrian helicopters on a civilian market area of the Aleppo neighborhood of Al Shaar deserves the most strong international condemnation," he said. Mr. de Mistura stressed that the protection of civilians during armed conflicts is a cornerstone of international humanitarian law, and applies in all circumstances and without distinction.
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On 22 May, the Special Envoy met with the Islamic scholar Muhammad Al Habash and Hind Kabawat and Asma Kftarou from a civil society organization called ‘Tastaqil. He also received a delegation from the Kurdish National Council, with whom he shared views on ways to end the conflict, with due respect for Syrian diversity while maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. He also met with Najla Riachi Assaker, the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the UN in Geneva, and discussed ways to support Syria in launching a political process, as well as the urgent need to alleviate the humanitarian suffering and its impact on the neighbouring countries. Mr. de Mistura also received with deep sadness news of the kidnapping of a priest, Father Jacques Mourad, on 21 May in Homs, describing the “grave act” as being unfortunately not the first of its kind and “one of the sad consequences” of the raging conflict.
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On 21 May, Mr. de Mistura received a delegation from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, led by Mr. Nawaf Al Tal, Adviser to the Foreign Minister. Mr. Al Tal shared his Government’s assessments of the situation in Syria, the extent of the humanitarian suffering and its impact on the neighboring countries, as well as ways to end the conflict there through diplomatic efforts. In his separate meeting with a delegation of the European Union, led by EEAS Managing Director Mingarelli, the Special Envoy heard the EU’s emphasis on a search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Mr. Mingarelli reiterated the EU’s full support for the OSE-led effort to create a conducive environment for the resumption of a meaningful political process. The Special Envoy also met with Ms. Basma Kodmani, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, Mr. Samir Aita, member of the Syrian Democratic Forum, and Mr. Nabil Kassis of the Al-Waed party. At the end of the day, Mr. de Mistura observed that, “deepening humanitarian and security concerns, as well as the evolving priorities of the people in Syria, are outpacing discussions over a political solution in Syria. The ISIL/Daesh offensive on Palmyra is a stark reminder of that”, he stressed. Mr. de Mistura also took note of calls on the United Nations to redouble efforts to help Syrian and regional actors reach an agreement on a peaceful future Syria.
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