The Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, today reaffirmed the importance of implementing a six-point plan to halt the violence in the Middle Eastern country, and stressed that the international community must continue to work together to end the ongoing conflict there.
Earlier today, Mr. Annan briefed the Security Council, by video-conference, on his visit to Damascus, the Syrian capital, where he met with President Bashar Al-Assad, as well as his meetings with Iranian and Iraqi leaders during a visit to the region earlier this week. He also briefed on the results of the UN-backed Action Group on Syria, which met last week.
Addressing reporters this evening in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Annan said that during his meeting with Mr. Al-Assad, they had agreed to take immediate action in places experiencing severe violence, while still working to implement the six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy earlier this year.
“The discussion we had was to take action at those locations where one has such horrific violence that you cannot get in humanitarian assistance, people who are trapped could not get out, and work out ceasefire arrangements at these localities with possibly the help of UNSMIS,” he said.
“This does not free anybody from the broader obligation of the ceasefire as indicated in the plan. So that is the idea – whether it is in Homs, Hama or wherever,” he added.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began 16 months ago.
Mr. Annan’s six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
At its meeting, the Action Group on Syria forged an agreement outlining the steps for a peaceful transition in the country. It called for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers, as part of important agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition, as well as for all parties to immediately re-commit to a sustained cessation of armed violence, to fully cooperate with observers serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), and to implement Mr. Annan’s six-point peace plan.
In his remarks to the press, the Joint Special Envoy underscored that members of the Action Group are taking significant steps to exercise pressure on various parties to implement Security Council resolutions to stop the violence. He also noted the positive response from his meetings in the region.
“In both Iran and Iraq, the Governments committed to supporting the six-point plan. They supported the idea of political transition, which will be Syrian-led and allow the Syrians to decide what their future political dispensation will be,” he said. “Obviously they are going to use their influence in talking to the Government and the parties in moving in that direction.”
Mr. Annan also noted the importance of a united Security Council on the Syrian crisis.
“I was urging all governments to work together, to work together to press the parties and to support the one mediation effort so we can succeed in the goal we all share. And if we unite –
and this issue came up in the Council again today – if the Council speaks with one voice, that voice is much more powerful than when it is divided,” he said.
The three-month mandate of the Council-authorized UNSMIS ends on 20 July, with the Council expected to meet before then to decide on its future.
Under resolution 2043, the Council established UNSMIS – for three months and with up to 300 unarmed military observers – in April to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan. In mid-June, UNSMIS suspended its monitoring activities due to an escalation of violence.