26 October 2017
8076th Meeting (AM)

Time Not on Our Side, Special Envoy Tells Security Council, Announcing Eighth Round of Intra‑Syrian Talks In Late November

The Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy for Syria announced his intention to convene the eighth round of intra‑Syrian talks in Geneva on 28 November in his briefing to the Security Council today.

Speaking to the 15‑member Council via video teleconference from Geneva, Staffan de Mistura noted that there had been significant developments in the fight against terrorism, among other things with the liberation of Raqqa.  However, he warned that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) was launching asymmetric attacks in and near Damascus.  Without an inclusive process, there was fear that Da’esh could return.  Terrorism could not be defeated by military means alone, he stressed, adding that the focus should be on de‑escalation and installing a monitoring mechanism.

He said any de‑escalation must be interim in nature and not lead to any partitioning of Syria.  The United Nations remained committed to the territorial integrity of the country with the aim of a nationwide cease fire.  Recalling that the Council had only mandated the United Nations to convene an intra‑Syrian political negotiation process and no one else, he said that in preparation of a new round of talks he had spoken to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of the Russian Federation, as well as to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of the United States, among other high‑level interlocutors, and had arranged contacts with Syrian and regional players.

During the upcoming round of talks, within the framework of Council resolution 2254 (2015), he said he intended to realize a transitional political process that focused on items with prospects of progress.  Those included the process for drafting a new constitution and establishing the requirements for United Nations‑supervised elections.  The issue of detainees and missing persons should also be addressed as a confidence‑building measure.

He would draw on contributions from civil society, he said, including those of the Women’s Advisory Board in support of Syrian women’s demand that 30 per cent of negotiators consist of women.  He asked for the Council’s support in this regard and urged those with influence on the Government of Syria to press it to come to Geneva for substantive negotiations.

“Time is not on our side,” he said, adding that now “is the moment of truth”.  He welcomed any suggestion to engage regional and international players.  As well, he had been briefed by the Russian Federation on its intention to convene a large gathering of Syrian players in Syria in the near future.  Any initiative should be in support of the United Nations process, he stressed.

Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay) noted a change in the reality on the ground in Syria, given the development of de‑escalation zones and the expulsion of ISIL from certain areas.  It was also clear that the Government was gaining the upper hand.  It was important to act on the basis of those facts.  As there was no military solution to the conflict, the negotiating processes were fundamental.  Praising Mr. De Mistura’s ambitious efforts towards those aims and calling for firm support from the Council, he also expressed hope that the new reality spurred substantial progress towards peace with the participation of a united opposition speaking with one voice.

The meeting started at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.