|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
‘Syria and Region Can Quickly Move From Tipping Point to Breaking Point,’
Secretary-General Says, Calling for Urgent Implementation of Annan Plan
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly on the situation in Syria, today, 7 June, in New York:
Let me begin by welcoming the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, and our Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan.
We join forces at a grave and grievous hour. The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Each day seems to bring new additions to the grim catalogue of atrocities: assaults against civilians, brutal human rights violations, mass arrests, torture, execution-style killings of whole families.
For many months, it has been evident that President [Bashar Al-]Assad and his Government have lost all legitimacy. The recent slaughter in El-Houla brought this fact into horrifying focus.
Men, women, even children were executed at point-blank range; some had their throats slit or skulls crushed. The trail of blood leads back to those responsible. Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.
Nabil Elaraby Today’s news reports of another massacre in Al Kubeir and Kafr Zeta are shocking and sickening. A village apparently surrounded by Syrian forces — the bodies of innocent civilians lying there — they were shot, some allegedly burned or slashed with knives. We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account.
The United Nations monitors were initially denied access. They are working now to get to the scene. And I just learned a few minutes ago that, while trying to do so, the United Nations monitors were shot at with small arms. Peaceful protesters have bravely persisted in calling for dignity and freedom. Yet too often, they have paid with their lives.
We see too little evidence that the Syrian Government is living up to its commitments under the six-point plan endorsed by the Security Council more than two months ago. For their part, many elements of the opposition have unfortunately turned to arms and declared that they will no longer respect the plan.
The inability of either the regime or the opposition to engage in any meaningful political dialogue makes the prognosis extremely grave. And the longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult the path towards peace and eventual reconciliation will become.
The international community must recognize these realities — and act, with unity and collective will. Our priorities remain clear: to stop the violence and protect the Syrian people and their rights; to deliver humanitarian aid to those in need; and to advance a political solution to the crisis.
The Annan Plan remains the centerpiece of these efforts. We continue to support it with stronger steps to ensure compliance. At the same time, in view of the deteriorating situation, I would welcome further international discussion on how we can act more effectively.
No one can predict how the situation in Syria will evolve. We must be prepared for any eventuality. We must be ready to respond to many possible scenarios. Syria’s neighbours in the region bear a special responsibility. That is why this Assembly endorsed the League of Arab States decision to appoint our Joint Special Envoy.
I regret that the Government of Syria has not supported this dual mandate and has refused entry to Deputy Joint Special Envoy [Nasser] Al- Kidwa as part of the negotiating team. This is unacceptable. Syrian authorities must correct the situation immediately.
I wish to express my strong appreciation for Secretary-General [Nabil] El Araby’s hard work and the commitment of the League of Arab States to help the people of Syria realize their legitimate political aspirations — aspirations that have been denied for far too long.
I would also like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of the Joint Special Envoy, not only for his tireless efforts on behalf of the people of Syria, but also for his important contribution to the United Nations Supervision Mission to Syria.
Our brave United Nations observers are working with the utmost dedication in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. They are the eyes and ears of the international community. They bear witness to the worst atrocities. When innocent civilians were slaughtered in El-Houleh two weeks ago, they reported the facts, objectively and without bias. We must acknowledge the risks at which they operate, however. And in full knowledge of those risks, it is incumbent upon us today to do everything within our power to end the killing and advance a political solution to the crisis.
As the Joint Special Envoy has warned, Syria is at a pivotal moment, and so are we. Syria and the region can quickly move from tipping point to breaking point. The dangers of full-scale civil war are imminent and real. I therefore call on President Assad to urgently and unconditionally implement the six-point Annan plan. I call on President Assad to allow the United Nations observer mission to do its work, safely and without interference or intimidation. I call on Syrian authorities to allow United Nations humanitarian teams to operate freely. More than 1 million civilians need assistance. So do the more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.
Finally, I call on all Member States to exert their maximum influence — with both sides — to help the Joint Special Envoy succeed in this all-important mission. Every day, more people die. Every day, more people are forced from their homes. All violence must end — by the regime, by the armed opposition.
Now is the time for the international community to take bold and concerted action, in the name of our common humanity. Thank you.
* *** *For information media • not an official record