Ahead of tomorrow’s United Nations Security Council summit on foreign terrorist fighters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for decisive action in support of efforts to confront extremists.
“It is undeniable and the subject of broad international consensus that these groups pose an immediate threat to international peace and security,” Mr. Ban told journalists gathered at his Climate Summit at UN Headquarters in New York.
He noted that while there can be no justification for the barbarity and suffering these groups impose on the Syrian people, any measures taken must be fully in line with the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law.
“Protecting the Syrian people requires immediate action, but action that is rooted in the principles of the United Nations,” Mr. Ban said, adding that all efforts should be taken to minimize civilian casualties.
The UN chief’s remarks came one day after the United States and its allies announced air strikes in Syria, expending operations against the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Mr. Ban said that he was aware that the strikes were not carried out at the direct request of the Syrian Government but that the Government was informed beforehand.
He also noted that the strikes took place in areas no longer under the effective control of the Government.
President Barack Obama of the United States, in that country’s capacity of holding the rotating Security Council presidency for the month of September, is due to chair tomorrow’s special session.
The 15-member Council will discuss ways to address the growing challenges related to foreign terrorist fighters, including how to identify and sanction individuals and groups sponsoring terrorism, facilitating and financing the recruitment of foreign fighters.
Also today, Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura briefed about his recent visit to Damascus, where he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the other Syrian authorities, as well as civil society.
Mr. de Mistura said that while he did not any “grand projects at the moment,” he had three main priorities for Syria: lowering the level of violence, increasing access to aid and promoting the political process.
“In order to move at the moment there is obviously a game changer and the game changer is Daesh and the fight against Daesh,” Mr. de Mistura told reporters using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.
He said while the current period is a “delicate” and a “dangerous” one, the international community has to make sure that the 11 million Syrian in urgent need of aid are helped.
“Fighting terrorism needs to be accompanied with a genuine process, a political process including all Syrians,” the UN envoy said, adding that Mr. Assad agreed on the importance of a political process.
Turning to the participation of Iran in the efforts, Mr. de Mistura called Tehran “an important player” and voiced optimism that the Government is “an important partner in what should be a political process.”