UN chief voices disappointment at lack of Syria ceasefire

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

29 October 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced deep disappointment on Monday that the call for a ceasefire in Syria has not been respected, stressing that more bloodshed will not resolve the crisis.

“I am deeply disappointed that the parties failed to respect the call to suspend fighting,” Mr. Ban said during a ceremony in the Republic of Korea at which he received the Seoul Peace Prize. “This crisis cannot be solved with more weapons and bloodshed.”

He said the United Nations is doing its utmost to ease the humanitarian situation and to set in motion a political solution to the crisis.

“For this to happen, the guns must fall silent,” he stated. “I call once again for the parties to immediately stop the fighting.”

There had been expectations that the warring parties in Syria would agree to observe a ceasefire, starting last Friday, in observance of the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha, in the hope that it would help create an environment that would allow a political process to develop.

More than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 20 months ago. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, and over 340,000 have crossed the border to Syria's neighbouring countries, according to UN estimates.

Mr. Ban also repeated his call for the Security Council, the regional countries and all parties to support the mission of the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, to help move forward on a political track, as well as for unity within the international community.

“As long as the international community remains at odds, the needs, attacks and suffering will only grow.”

Mr. Brahimi, who is in Moscow today, stressed that the Syrian crisis is worsening. “The situation is bad and is getting worse and the entire international community has got to come together and help the people of Syria find solutions to the crisis,” he told reporters following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

While he voiced regret that the appeal for a ceasefire has not been respected, Mr. Brahimi said this “will not discourage us.” He pledged to continue efforts to bring down the level of violence and help put the country on a new path.

In his address in Seoul, the Secretary-General spoke more broadly about the pursuit of peace at a time of global transition, stating that the human family is at a critical juncture.

“The world is moving through a Great Transition. This transition is economic, as the digital revolution advances and as new powers and groups emerge,” he said, adding that the implications of this “momentous shift” are only beginning to unfold.

“The Great Transition is also developmental, as we seek a more sustainable path,” Mr. Ban added. “The social perils of rising inequality and joblessness are clear. And our ecological footprint is overstepping the earth's boundaries.

“We are using resources as if we had two planets, not one. There can be no Plan B because there is no planet B.”

Politics, noted the Secretary-General, are also on the move, awakened against oppression, corruption and misrule. “People are increasingly – and rightly – demanding a greater role in shaping their own destiny.

“Dramatic transitions in the Arab world, Africa and elsewhere have brought new hope to many countries and to others that have suffered severe democratic deficits for too long.”

He stated that leaders must listen to their constituents – must respond to their needs and aspirations – or make way for those who will.

The UN, too, must deliver, stated Mr. Ban, adding that the Organization must help the world turn back the tide of rising insecurity, injustice, inequality and intolerance.

“Peace and security, development and human rights are indivisible. We will not enjoy one without the others. We must deliver peace in the fullest sense of the word.”

Also today, Mr. Ban spoke at a luncheon at an international conference on promoting peace and development through sports, and held a series of meetings with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Gender Equality and Family of the Republic of Korea.


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