New Title, New HQ as Brahimi Seeks New Solution to Syria Crisis


Aug. 21, 2012  – Lakhdar Brahimi, the newly appointed United Nations – Arab League joint special representative for Syria, will be in New York later this week, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Tuesday.

The former Algerian foreign minister will also be based out of New York, Nesirky confirmed, unlike his predecessor Kofi Annan, who set up headquarters in Geneva for the four months he spent seeking a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Brahimi also has a different title than Annan, who was joint special envoy for Syria. The new title and new headquarters for his peace mission indicate that Brahimi does not merely want to be seen as a replacement for Annan (a co-member of the Elders) but as someone who can bring his own ideas and experience to bear on brokering a solution.

He’s already incurred ire from the opposition by stating that it’s too early for him to say if Assad should go and angered the regime by describing the current situation in Syria as a civil war.

– Denis Fitzgerald

UN Pulls Plug On Syria Observer Mission


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

Yemen Co-Sponsors Syria Resolution, Skips Vote

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari speaks before the vote. He asked member states to vote with their conscience (UN Photo)

Aug. 3 – The 193-member General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution that condemns the Syrian government’s violent 17-month crackdown and chides the Security Council for failing to agree on tough measures against Bashar Al- Assad.

The measure was adopted by a vote of 133 voting yes, 12 against and 31 abstentions.

Put forward by Saudi Arabia, as current chair of the Arab Group at the U.N., the resolution had more than 50 co-sponsors, including Yemen – yet no one from the Yemeni delegation showed up to vote. It’s one thing not to show up for a vote but to not show up to vote on a resolution you co-sponsored is quite another. A phone call to Yemen’s mission to the U.N. went unanswered and voice mail facility was not available.

Sana’a was not alone in missing the 11am General Assembly meeting – another 16 countries were also absent including Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as well as the U.N.’s newest member state, South Sudan. Other no shows were Cambodia, Philippines and Equatorial Guinea.

Among the 31 abstaining countries were Pakistan and India as well as Syria’s neighbor Lebanon.

The 12 countries who voted no to the resolution were, predictably, Syria along with China and Russia—who’ve double vetoed three Security Council resolutions against Damascus in the past ten months—as well as Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

A full tally of the vote is here.

July 14 Statement From UNSMIS Following Preliminary Fact-Finding Mission to Treimseh

Note to correspondents by the Spokesperson for the UN Supervision Mission in   Syria

UN Observers entered el-Treimseh Saturday to try to ascertain the facts on the ground and verify reports of a military operation on the village.  On the basis of this preliminary mission, UNSMIS can confirm that an attack, using a variety of weapons, took place in Treimseh on July 12.

The attack on Treimseh appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists.   There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases.

The UN Team also observed a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them.

A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.

The number of casualties is still unclear.  The UN Team plans to go back into Treimseh tomorrow to continue their fact finding mission.

The Head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, announced on Friday, in a press conference, that the UN Mission stands ready to send its Observers to Treimseh, despite the Mission’s suspension of activities, if and when there is a ceasefire.

UNSMIS received information that a ceasefire was in place on Friday and immediately conducted a reconnaissance patrol in the area to assess access to the village and establish contacts with local Parties.

An 11 vehicle integrated patrol, comprised of specialized military and civilian observers, arrived in Treimseh, 25km north-west of the city of Hama, on Saturday after confirming that a ceasefire was in place.

UNSMIS is deeply concerned about the escalating level of violence in Syria and calls on the Government to cease the use of heavy weapons on population centres and on the Parties to put down their weapons and choose the path of non-violence for the welfare of the Syrian people who have suffered enough.  

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.”

Latest Version of UNSC Resolution on Syria

[The resolution failed to pass when permanent members China and Russsa used their veto to defeat the measure in a 13-2 vote on Feb.4]


List of Co-Sponsors: Morocco, France, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Portugal Colombia, Togo, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkey.

 The Security Council,

pp1 Recalling its presidential statement of 3 August 2011,

pp2 Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176 of 19 December 2011, as well as Human Rights Council resolutions S/16-1, S/17-1 and S/18-1,

pp3 Noting the League of Arab States’ request in its decision of 22 January 2012,

pp4 Expressing grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in Syria, and profound concern at the death of thousands of people and calling for an immediate end to all violence,

pp5 Welcoming the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011 and its subsequent decisions, including its decision of 22 January 2012, which aims to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis,

pp6 Noting the deployment of the League of Arab States’ observer mission, commending its efforts, regretting that, due to the escalation in violence, the observer mission was not in a position to monitor the full implementation of the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011, and noting the subsequent decision of the League of Arab states to suspend the mission,

pp7 Underscoring the importance of ensuring the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in safety and with dignity,

pp8 Mindful that stability in Syria is key to peace and stability in the region,

pp9  Noting the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regretting the lack of progress in implementation,

pp10 Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, emphasizing its intention to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully, and noting that nothing in this resolution authorizes measures under Article 42 of the Charter,

pp11 Welcoming the engagement of the Secretary-General and all diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing the situation, and noting in this regard the offer of the Russian Federation to host a meeting in Moscow, in consultation with the League of Arab States,

1.Condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protestors and members of the media, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children;

2. Demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, protect its population, fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law and fully implement the Human Rights Council resolutions S-16/1, S-17/1, S-18/1 and the General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176;

3. Condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and in this regard demands that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop all violence or reprisals, including attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative;

4. Recalls that all those responsible for human rights violations, including acts of violence, must be held accountable;

5. Demands that the Syrian government, in accordance with the Plan of Action of the League of Arab States of 2 November 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012, without delay:

(a) cease all violence and protect its population;

(b) release all persons detained arbitrarily due to the recent incidents;

(c) withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks;

(d) guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations;

(e) allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States’ institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place; and

(f) allow full and unhindered access to the League of Arab States’ observer mission;

6. Calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism, and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s people, without prejudging the outcome;

7. Fully supports in this regard the League of Arab States’ 22 January 2012 decision to 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 serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States;

8. Encourages the League of Arab States to continue its efforts in cooperation with all Syrian stakeholders;

9. Calls upon the Syrian authorities, in the event of a resumption of the observer mission, to cooperate fully with the League of Arab States’ observer mission, in accordance with the League of Arabs States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011, including through granting full and unhindered access and freedom of movement to the observers, facilitating the entry of technical equipment necessary for the mission, guaranteeing the mission’s right to interview, freely or in private, any individual and guaranteeing also not to punish, harass, or retaliate against, any person who has cooperated with the mission;

10. Stresses the need for all to provide all necessary assistance to the mission in accordance with the League of Arab States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012;

11. Demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the Commission of Inquiry dispatched by the Human Rights Council, including by granting it full and unimpeded access to the country;

12. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance;

13. Welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts to provide support to the League of Arab States, including its observer mission, in promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis;

14. Requests the Secretary General to report on the implementation of this resolution, in consultation with the League of Arab States, within 21 days after its adoption and to report every 30 days thereafter;

15. Decides to review implementation of this resolution within 21 days and, in the event of non-compliance, to consider further measures;

16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.