UPDATES FOR CORRESPONDENTS
28 December - Joint statement by the UN in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross
26 December - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Special Envoy for Syria
11 December - International Syria Support Group meeting
24 November: Statement attributable to the spokesperson of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria
14 November - Statement of the International Syria Support Group
6 November - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria
30 October - Vienna Communique on Syria
2 October - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura
22 September - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Special Envoy for Syria
13 September - Statement of the Special Envoy for Syria to the Ministerial meeting of the League of Arab States
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.
10 September - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria
1st September - Special Envoy for Syria met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Arab African Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran
17 August - Special Envoy for Syria condemned yesterday's air raids on the town of Duma
14 August - Special Envoy for Syria condemns shelling of Damascus Suburbs
12 August - Special Envoy for Syria welcomes the release of human rights activist and journalist
5 August - Secretary-General encouraged by Security Council’s support for latest proposal on Syria
5 August - Special Envoy explains his proposal on thematic discussions
29 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.
29 July - Special Envoy for Syria briefs Security Council on the situation in Syria
Security Council briefing on the situation in Syria by the Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura
Thank you Mr Secretary-General for your strong and supportive introduction to this debate,
Your Excellency Foreign Minister McCully, Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,
1. It is precisely the immensity of the human suffering as just described by the Secretary-General and yesterday by our colleague USG O'Brien that commands us to seek out even the remotest possibility for a political solution, even if, and we heard it, sadly the logic of assuming a military victory by anyone, which is impossible, continues. And barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons continue to kill Syrian civilians.
2. On 5 May, based on instructions from the Secretary-General, we unrolled the Geneva Consultations. It’s a new form of avoiding getting cornered in a conference which then gets us straight-jacketed, it is a set of structured separate discussions with Syrian and non-Syrian players aimed at "stress testing" any willingness, if there is any, of narrowing the gaps in interpretation of the principles contained in the Geneva Communiqué, which is still, let’s be frank, the internationally only recognized framework for a settlement, even if still ambiguous in some parts. To-date Consultations with over 200 different individuals, actually 216, -Syrians and non-Syrians- in Geneva and in capitals, reveal a generally shared sense of urgency given especially the recent gains by Daesh and al-Nusra Front, the talk of some de facto fragmentation, radicalization and sectarianism. There is thus growing reference to the need for a managed, phased, gradual controlled transition, to avoid a repeat of what no one in this Council would like to se, the problems we have had in Libya and in Iraq.
3. Consultations too have reaffirmed that most Syrians and international actors agree on what Syria should look like, and the relevance of the principles and content of the Geneva Communique. It was three years ago, and it is still valid. Syrians overall emphasize their own vision for a united, sovereign, independent -they’re very proud people-, non-sectarian, multi-confessional, all-inclusive state with territorial integrity, preserved but reformed state institutions, such as the Ministries -as we have seen in Iraq that was the biggest problem we faced when suddenly many institutions disappeared in one moment of the change-, including the political, security and judiciary sectors led by those who can inspire public confidence and trust.
4. Yet, there is disagreement -Mr Secretary-General said it very clearly- on how to get there much based on the different narratives, one as to the root causes of the conflict and emerging priorities. The fear of black flags over Damascus is driving many to consider reassessing their own earlier positions. Yet, many continue to consider also that the conflict continues to be about the Arab Spring calls for a change. There is a firm recognition that counter-terrorism is now definitely a priority. However, many are also wondering -both Syrians and member states- that n order to assert that type of counter-terrorism, there is a need for a credible new government with whom they can partner in that effort.
5. While common ground exists, the question over the devolution of executive authority to a transitional body -let’s be honest with ourselves- remains the most polarizing element of the Communique. For some, this means that the TGB -transitional governing body- is an instrument to hand over power. Some political and armed opposition groups generally reject any notion of power-sharing with the current government in Damascus. The Syrian government has accepted in theory to discuss the TGB at the Geneva II Conference but continues to reject the concept as unconstitutional.
6. It is still broadly understood that, whatever the solution, it should ensure the "meaningfulness and irreversibility of the transition" and a widely acceptable process, without causing an abrupt jolt, shock, trauma, catastrophe, in the system in Syria - we cannot afford that. And that should also include assurances for Syrian communities -and there are many minorities who have been under threat- and regional stakeholders and guarantees that the Syrian people are part of the decision-making - including, let me stress it, especially women. We met remarkable Syrian women in our Geneva Consultations who haver been giving us often the most powerful concept and analysis we have heard.
7. Sadly there is still no consensus on the way forward on the Communique or yet a formalized even negotiation - we would not be discussing it here otherwise, we would be working on the negotiation. At the same time, given the deepening tragedy- the UN is obliged -and all of us are- to keep the issue alive, to not leave any stone unturned, also attuned to ongoing serious conversations and discussions which are taking place, and we are hearing them, around the region and elsewhere, which may require perhaps more time, and may be linked with developments that the Secretary-General just referred to.
8. We have thus strived to develop recommendations, guided by the views and analysis shared with us during the Consultations. This is the first time by the way that the Syrian people have been given a chance, they told us, to be deeply and intensely consulted - after all we always say this is a Syrian-led , Syrian-involved process, well this was the opportunity. Our recommendations are predicated on the need for a regional and international consensus - and sustained engagement- on a way forward.
9. In responding to the Secretary-General's instruction therefore that we should try to "operationalise the Geneva Communique", together with my team we have consulted widely inside and around; and verified if there was critical mass for common action, and ultimately tried to visualize, from a technical point of view, the implementation of the Geneva Communique, in all its aspects, including the TGB. And we have come up with a detailed formula for the phased implementation of the Geneva Communique, so there is no alibi in case there was -and there will be- a political consensus, including on the TGB, which could assume the functions of a government, a definition of mutual consent, which was in the Geneva Communiqué, the functioning of a military council and Syrian National Congress for national dialogue and constitutional reform, combined with confidence-building measures.
10. Ours is a straightforward interpretation formula for the implementation of the Communique. Regretfully, the Consultations also confirmed that achieving an agreement on this is difficult in the current Syrian context. In fact, many urged us not convene a Geneva III conference yet, because we are not yet there.
11. But, we cannot let the situation in Syria continue to drift. And that’s why based on the appeal and the urge of the Secretary-General, we need to move in a direction where Syrians come together to stop the violence and set out an irreversible path towards a genuine political transition. Which leads us to our main Recommendation.
12. The Geneva Consultations got Syrians to again start talking to each other, sometimes indirectly through us, but they did. What I am today proposing is actually a deepening, getting much deeper, of those issues in the Geneva Communiqué which are not so controversial, and analyzing those that can be controversial. I now intend to invite therefore Syrians to parallel, simultaneous, thematic discussions through intra-Syrian working groups addressing the key aspects of the Geneva Communique, as identified by them in the first phase of the Consultations:
Safety and Protection for All: which means including ending sieges, how to do so, ensuring medical access and releasing detainees;
Political and Constitutional Issues: including the essential principles, transitional governing body and elections;
Military and Security Issues: including combatting terrorism in an effective inclusive way, cease-fires, and integration;
Public Institutions, Reconstruction and Development: which means we should to try to avoid as we said what happened in Iraq and elsewhere where suddenly institutions disappeared and the country got into a major difficulty. Those institutions should continue to deliver public services under a top leadership acceptable to all, and acting in accordance with principles of good government and human rights.
13. These working groups will start generating movement, we believe, towards a Syrian-owned Framework Document on the implementation of the Geneva Communique. These efforts can build on the very useful meetings that took place in Moscow, in Cairo, in Paris, and even in Astana recently and many track II initiatives. This effort should be led by a Steering committee and the Framework Document will also provide for a transitional governing body, procedures for a national dialogue, and so on. Such an international initiative will require the support of a Contact Group, and we will get there at the right time.
14. In all of the above I seek this Council's support, as the Secretary-General has said, and stand ready to regularly report to you and to the Secretary-General, on progress or challenges, which we will definitively have.
Mr Secretary-General, Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,
15. The Consultations have gone some way towards identifying existing common ground. They also still hold the promise that a set of formal negotiations could convene after preparing the ground, if there is a political will. The Geneva Consultations have been loud and clear on the profound risks of failing to act now, including the increasing risk of a multi-generational conflict that, with each passing month, reduces the prospects of ever restoring Syria as a unified state, let alone making it even harder to establish a political process.
16. In closing Mr. President, let me thank the Secretary-General again for being with us today, showing his strong commitment about the issue that is in front of us, and the Secretariat, and the members of the Security Council for their continuous support for our difficult, uphill, difficult, but needed mission. I am obviously ready to go into details more in a separate meeting later on.
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 2015.11 July
26 & 27 June
25 & 26 June
FIVE WEEKS INTO THE GENEVA CONSULTATIONS
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
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.
On 1 June 2015, the Special Envoy for Syria met with a delegation from the Kingdom of Bahrain, led by Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who shared his government’s views on a political solution to the conflict in Syria and the ongoing developments on the ground. “This four-year brutal conflict has proven that no one will ever win through military means,” Mr. de Mistura said at the end of his meeting.
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.