Announcing that he will convene the eighth round of intra-Syrian talks on 28 November in Geneva, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria on Thursday urged all stakeholders to seize the opportunity to find a solution to the crisis plaguing the war-torn country.
“I have asked for focus and realism because we need to get the parties into real negotiation over items where there is some prospect that they could begin to narrow the gaps,” said Staffan de Mistura, briefing the UN Security Council via videoconference.
“Time is not on our side,” he warned.
Mr. de Mistura also told the 15-member Council at the UN remains committed to the territorial integrity of Syria with the aim of a nationwide ceasefire and that any de-escalation must be interim in nature and not lead to any partitioning of the country.
During the upcoming, eighth, round of talks, within the framework of Council resolution 2254 (2015), the Special Envoy said he intends to realize a transitional political process that focuses on items with prospects of progress.
“Applying this logic, my considered assessment as the mediator is that, for round eight – and I would like to ask you for your support on this – we should see if we can move some aspects of the agenda concretely forward – just far beyond exploration, and into negotiation,” he added, noting also that a serious step on detainees, abductees and missing persons is needed.
Mr. de Mistura also explained that he would draw on contributions from civil society, including those of the Women's Advisory Board in support of Syrian women's demand that 30 per cent of negotiators consist of women, and asked for the Security Council's support in this regard.
Also in his briefing, the Special Envoy said that despite significant developments in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh), the terrorist group remains a potent threat, launching asymmetric attacks in and near the capital, Damascus.
“Without an inclusive political process, there is a real threat that Da'esh or similar entities could return and exploit the feelings of marginalization and grievances. That's why we need a political process,” he underscored.