The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, today cited the need to increase international pressure on the parties to end the ongoing conflict and ensure a political transition, stressing that the time to act is now.
With the violence in Syria continuing unabated, Annan said that he has been in intensive consultations with a number of ministers and officials in capitals around the world about the possibility of convening a meeting of ministers to discuss what further actions could be taken.
“It is time for countries of influence to raise the level of pressure on the parties on the ground, and to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop the killing and start talking,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
“The longer we wait, the darker Syria’s future becomes. This process cannot be open-ended,” Mr. Annan added. “It is urgent that our consultations yield real results soon. Otherwise, I fear we are reaching the day when it will be too late to stop the crisis from spiralling out of control. The time to act is now.”
He said discussions are continuing on the possibility of convening a meeting, on 30 June in Geneva, of a “contact group” comprising the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – as well as other governments and countries “with influence on one or the other parties” to discuss the way forward.
Annan was joined at the news conference by Major-General Robert Mood, the Chief Military Observer and head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), which last week temporarily suspended the monitoring activities of UNSMIS observers due to the recent escalation of violence.
Maj.-Gen. Mood said a few days ago that UN observers would only be able to resume their work if there is a significant reduction in the violence, and a commitment by both the Government and the opposition to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of the observers.
“Given the fact that the mandate is for 90 days and doesn’t expire until the 20th of July, my focus is to be able to continue to implement the mandated tasks as soon as the situation allows and a less risky level of violence makes that possible,” he stated at the Geneva press conference.
The Security Council established UNSMIS in April, for an initial period of three months, to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan put forward by Mr. Annan.
The 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 that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
“I urge all parties to heed the call for a cessation of violence in all its forms, first and foremost for the sake of the Syrian people, the children and women in particular. I think they have suffered for far too long and continue to suffer,” Mr. Annan said. “But if our efforts are to succeed, we shall need the united and sustained support of the international community. This is essential.”
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 Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.
“As we move forward, we should keep our goals firmly in view: to stop the killing, help the suffering population, secure a political transition, and ensure that the crisis does not spread to the neighbours,” the Joint Special Envoy stated.