The long-awaited international conference on Syria aims to find a political solution to the ongoing conflict, and marks the first time the Syrian Government and the opposition will meet for direct talks since the conflict began in March 2011. Hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the conference is taking place in Switzerland in two parts, opening in Montreux on 22 January 2014, and continuing at the UN office in Geneva, on 24 January. More than 30 nations have been invited to attend.
More than 100,000 people have been killed and nearly 9 million others driven from their homes since March 2011, when the conflict in Syria erupted between the Government and groups seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The UN is working with partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.
With human rights violations at the heart of the Syrian crisis, the UN has called for an immediate end to violence; release of political prisoners; impartial investigations to end impunity, ensure accountability and bring perpetrators to justice; and reparations for the victims.
The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) was established by the Security Council on 21 April, through resolution 2043, to monitor a cessation of armed violence by all parties and to support implementation of Joint Special Representative Kofi Annan's "Six-point plan" to end the conflict in Syria.
Intensified armed violence across the country forced UNSMIS to suspend its activities on 15 June 2012. On 20 July 2012, the Security Council decided to extend the Mission for a final 30 days, stressing that any further extension would be possible only "in the event that the Secretary-General reports and the Security Council confirms the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient by all sides'' to allow the UNSMIS monitors to implement their mandate. As those conditions were not met, the Mission's mandate came to an end at midnight on 19 August 2012.
Through his good offices, the Joint Special Envoy sought to promote a peaceful solution to the crisis in line with the aspirations of the Syrian people. He represented the UN and the Arab League in what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said were "selfless efforts and contributions to the search for peace in Syria.
The Joint Special Envoy (JSE) convened a meeting of the Action Group for Syria in Geneva on 30 June 2012.