Pointing to signs of emerging common ground towards implementing the United Nations process for ending the conflict in Syria, the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy for that country today called on the Security Council to support meaningful progress in the eighth round of talks, due to begin in Geneva on 28 November.
Speaking to the 15 member Council via video teleconference from Geneva, Staffan de Mistura emphasized that emerging threads of consensus must be stitched into a universal resolve to implement Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). That text outlined a course of action, under the aegis of the United Nations, to draft a new constitution and hold inclusive elections as the basis for a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned process to end the conflict.
Following several international meetings and the ouster of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) from its headquarters town of Raqqa, new opportunities for progress existed, he said.
He had been stressing to the parties that they should come to the talks with no preconditions, he continued. The Government and the opposition delegations should be ready to negotiate, with the opposition united in its position, he said, adding that he looked forward to progress on the path to a new constitution and elections supervised by the United Nations.
In addition, all other initiatives for peace must support the United Nations process based on resolution 2254 (2015), he underscored. There had been positive signals in the recent meetings in the Russian Federation that brought together the Russian and Syrian Presidents, as well as the Presidents of Turkey and Iran. Reports on the matter had noted that Syrian President Assad had expressed support for the resolution and the Geneva process. Given those reports, Mr. de Mistura said that, although those officials had not yet arrived in Geneva, he hoped for the Syrian Government’s full participation in the upcoming talks.
He also noted that full support for the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015) had been expressed by the Russian Federation and the United States Presidents after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Viet Nam.
Reporting on his activities at a meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mr. de Mistura welcomed their wide diversity, including some who had previously participated in the first Riyadh meeting, the Cairo platform and the Moscow platform. He particularly welcomed the active participation of women, as well as independent representatives, activists, established political parties, tribal leaders and businessmen. He called on them to move ahead in unity.
On the results of the Riyadh meeting, he said that a Negotiation Commission had been formed and was now on their way to Geneva, having agreed to negotiate without preconditions on the resolution’s basis. In addition, participants had unequivocally rejected terrorism and had agreed that the solution to the Syrian crisis was political, not military.
Building the foundations for a wider Syrian process, more than 200 civil society actors would be engaged in Geneva as well, he said. The Women’s Advisory Board, Syrian constitutional experts, human rights groups and refugee community leaders based in neighbouring countries would all attend.
He said he would urge political principles to move into serious discussions and progressive negotiations, again without preconditions. He would be looking to see how parties engaged in the room, regardless of their public statements on the issues. With good will, it should be possible to narrow the differences on their vision of the future, as well as make progress on issues such as abductees, detainees, missing persons and counter-terrorism.
“The time has come to demonstrate to the Syrian people that they care about their survival and their lives,” he said, referring to the obligations of leaders of all parties. The support of the Security Council would be essential if the process was to move forward in a meaningful way, he stressed.
Luis Homero Bermúdez Álvarez (Uruguay) pointed out that a military victory by the Syrian Government would be a Pyrrhic victory. Welcoming the loss of power by terrorist groups, he underlined the importance of accountability for their crimes and commended efforts to unite the opposition and to have women present at negotiations. The de-escalation areas were temporary and the territorial integrity and unity of Syria must be preserved, he stated.
Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), paying tribute to the Government and people of Syria in their fight against Da’esh, emphasized the importance of preventing the formation of new terrorist groups. Any unilateral military action was illegal and contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Welcoming the holding of meetings, he urged all stakeholders to deliver on urgent decisions and deal with the issue of detainees, abductees and missing persons. He also stressed that an inclusive political process that safeguarded the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Syria was the only way forward.
Ahead of the briefing, the Security Council stood in silence in memory of the victims of the recent terrorist attack on a mosque in Ismailia, Egypt.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.