In Vienna on 25 and 26 January 2018 I engaged in consultations in a special round 9 meeting with the delegations of the Government of Syria and the Syrian Negotiations Commission within the framework of the UN-facilitated political process on Syria.
In accordance with the invitation, I focused on the constitutional basket of the agenda of the intra-Syrian talks towards the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), and bearing in mind the parameters and observations laid out in my briefing to the Security Council on 19 December 2017.
While in Vienna, I also took the opportunity to consult delegations of a number of countries. The Secretary-General also followed the deliberations closely and held high-level consultations.
I recalled that the objective of the political process is the full and complete implementation of resolution 2254 negotiated in the Geneva intra-Syrian talks process under the auspices of the United Nations as mandated by the Security Council. All reaffirmed their commitment to respecting my mandate in that regard and to the Geneva political process facilitated by the United Nations.
Recalling that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and also bearing in mind that the schedule and process for drafting of new constitution is to be set in the Geneva process in accordance with resolution 2254, I assess that it is understood that any Constitutional Committee would at the very least comprise Government, Opposition representatives in the intra-Syrian talks, Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women; that care would be taken to ensure adequate representation of Syria’s ethnic and religious components; and that final agreement is to be reached in the UN-led Geneva process on the mandate and terms of reference, powers, rules of procedure, and selection criteria for the composition of a Constitutional Committee.
I was briefed on preparations for the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi on 29 and 30 January. I took note of the statement by the Russian Federation that the outcome of the Congress would be brought to Geneva as a contribution to the intra-Syrian talks process under the auspices of the United Nations in accordance with resolution 2254. I will fully brief the Secretary-General on the outcome of the Vienna meeting – it is up to him to decide what will be the response of the United Nations to the invitation to go to Sochi.
I will continue to discharge my exclusive mandate to convene formal negotiations and facilitate a Syrian-led political process to bring about the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué and resolution 2254, and I affirm the four baskets of the agenda and the particular focus to be paid to baskets 2 and 3.
I recall that a secure, calm and neutral environment is needed and that the ultimate goal of a constitutional process is to enable the Syrian people to freely and independently determine their own future in UN-supervised parliamentary and presidential elections meeting the requirements laid out in resolution 2254.
I am gravely concerned at the situation on the ground in all its dimensions -- political, security, humanitarian and human rights. It is vital to end all violence and restore full respect for Syria sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence and for the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people through a Syrian-led and owned process facilitated by the UN. I particularly call for unhindered humanitarian access and progress on detainees, abductees, and missing persons.
I share the immense frustration of millions of Syrians, inside and outside the country, at the lack of a political settlement to date. I hope that the forthcoming Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi will contribute to a revived and credible intra-Syrian talks process under the United Nations in Geneva in accordance with resolution 2254, which I intend to reconvene in the near future.
Ultimately, what is required is political will. It is high time that diplomacy, dialogue and negotiation prevail for the interest of all Syrians.
As I said the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has been briefed and will be briefed on the outcome of these Vienna discussions. Then it will be up to him to take the decision on the UN response to the invitation to attend Sochi.