De Mistura New UN Envoy for Syria

Mr. Steffan de Mistura the Secretary-General's Special Representative (SRSG) for Afghanistan and head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), speaks to the press following a Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.
July 10, 2014 – Ban Ki-moon has appointed Swedish-Italian diplomat Staffan de Mistura as the UN special envoy for Syria.

De Mistura, who was previously UN representative to Iraq and Afghanistan, takes up the post vacated by Lakhdar Brahimi but unlike Brahimi or his predecessor, Kofi Annan, his is not a joint appointment with the Arab League.

While Annan was the joint UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria and Brahimi, the joint UN-Arab League special representative, De Mistura’s title is UN special envoy.

His deputy has been named as Egyptian Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, who previously served as the Arab League’s envoy to the IAEA in Vienna. Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that Ramzy’s appointment was made at the recommendation of the Arab League.

“I make it clear that Ambassador Ramzy was recommended by the League of Arab States, but he is going to be appointed by me, by the Secretary-General, and he is going to be the Deputy Special Envoy and he will work together with Mr. De Mistura,” Ban said. “But it is also important that we need to have closer coordination, consultation with the League of Arab States. That is a basic hallmark of our work until now, and it will continue to be so.”

Syria was suspended from membership of the Arab League in November 2011 and the decision by the UN to not appoint a joint envoy is viewed as a result of pressure from Damascus as well as a calculation that Damascus may work more cooperatively with an envoy not jointly appointed with the Arab League.

Annan served as joint special envoy from Feb. 2012 to Aug. 2012 and resigned after the failure of his six-point plan while Brahimi served from Aug. 2012 to May 2014 and resigned when it became clear that the Geneva Communique would not be implemented.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image/UN Photo

UN Pulls Plug On Syria Observer Mission

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Major-General Robert Mood and U.N. – Arab League joint special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan arrive at a Damscus hotel to address reporters in this June 22 photo. Mood stepped down as head of UNSMIS in July and Annan announced his resignation earlier this month citing lack of unity in the Security Council. (credit: UN Photo)

Aug. 17, 2012 – France’s envoy to the United Nations on Thursday confirmed that the mandate for the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) will not be renewed when it expires on August 19 and a smaller political liaison office will take its place.

The 300-strong unarmed observer force was deployed in late April to monitor a ceasefire that never took hold and suspended its activities on June 15 due to escalating violence.

“The conditions to continue UNSMIS was not fulfilled, but there was also a consensus (in the Security Council) about the need for keeping a U.N. presence in Damascus,” said Amb. Gerard Araud, president of the council for August.

That presence will consist of small office, some 20-30 people, which will include a human rights component, military advisers, and a demining team. Control of the office will shift from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to the Department of Political Affairs, said Edmund Mulet, deputy head of U.N. peacekeeping.

On Wednesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the death toll in Syria after 18 months of violence is now “more than 18,000.”

– Denis Fitzgerald

UNSC Presidential Statement on Syria

[Note: The six points below have become known as Annan’s six-point peace plan – On March 27th, Annan’s office announced that the plan had been accepted by the Syrian authorities. There has been no public response yet by the Syrian authorities nor any reported evidence that the plan is being implemented.]

“The Security Council recalls its Presidential Statement of 3 August 2011 and its Press Statement of 1 March 2012.

The Security Council expresses its gravest concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria which has resulted in a serious human rights crisis and a deplorable humanitarian situation.

The Security Council expresses its profound regret at the death of many thousands of people in Syria.

The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

The Security Council welcomes the appointment of Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, following the General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/253 of 16 February 2012 and relevant resolutions of the League of Arab States.

The Security Council expresses its full support for the efforts of the Envoy to bring an immediate end to all violence and human rights violations, secure humanitarian access, and facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.

To this aim, the Security Council fully supports the initial six-point proposal submitted to the Syrian authorities, as outlined by the Envoy to the Security Council on 16 March 2012, to:

1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy;

2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilize the country.

To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres.

 As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism.

Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism;

3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level.

4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organising access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;

5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;

6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.

The Security Council calls upon the Syrian government and opposition to work in good faith with the Envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and to implement fully and immediately his initial six-point proposal.

The Security Council requests the Envoy to update the Council regularly and in a timely manner on the progress of his mission. In the light of these reports, the Security Council will consider further steps as appropriate.”