There can be no higher priority at this moment than stopping the bloodshed in
I am pleased therefore to be with you for today’s briefing by Joint Special Envoy Mr. Kofi Annan. His tasks are very challenging and I am grateful for his hard work over the past several weeks.
Many of you in this audience have called his efforts the last chance to resolve the Syrian crisis peacefully. Some of you have expressed concern that a full-scale civil war could erupt, should diplomacy fail.
The stakes are extremely high. Your backing of Mr. Annan’s efforts has played a crucial role so far. I urge you to sustain and deepen that support.
The Security Council, for its part, has spoken out again in support of Mr. Annan’s work. I sincerely hope that this regained sense of unity in the Council will put pressure on all concerned to end the violence and suffering. I ask all members of the international community to rally behind Mr. Annan’s efforts, especially in the crucial days ahead.
Despite the Syrian Government’s acceptance of the Joint Special Envoy’s plan of initial proposals to resolve the crisis, the violence and assaults in civilian areas have not stopped. The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.
Violence should have stopped months ago. Indeed it never should have started, particularly since it was unleashed in response to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people -- the same demands that people across the Arab world have been making for more than a year now.
The death toll is rising each day. The human rights of the Syrian people continue to be gravely violated. Violence is driving thousands to leave their homes in search of safety and protection. People have been victims of horrendous abuse, including sexual violence.
Humanitarian needs are growing dramatically. Over one million Syrians need humanitarian assistance inside the country. Tens of thousands are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, which have shown exceptional hospitality.
The United Nations has started to mobilize assistance and has delivered help to 2,000 families in need inside Syria. We need to do more and we will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the Syrian people are not left alone at this critical time. As relief efforts expand, it will remain essential to preserve the independence and impartiality of humanitarian assistance.
Cities, towns and villages have been turned into war zones. The sources of violence are proliferating. This is simply unacceptable, and must stop immediately. The further militarization of the conflict is not a solution. I appeal to President Assad, his Government and all concerned to show vision and leadership, and to do what is right for the Syrian people. I urge the opposition to be ready to cease all violence as well, as Mr. Annan’s plan outlines.
Beyond a cessation of violence, it is critical to move fast on the political process. A pause in hostilities will not hold without a political horizon.
In this regard, the Syrian opposition is taking steps to present itself as a coherent body. This will be important for dialogue. I hope we can launch an inclusive and genuine process very soon.
The future of Syria belongs to the Syrian people. We must do our utmost to safeguard their welfare and uphold their universal rights.
We are providing all possible support -- including for Mr. Annan’s mission and through the UN technical team on the ground in Damascus today.
Our actions must continue to be based on our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
Our priority must be to promote a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system in which citizens are equal, regardless of their affiliations, ethnicities or beliefs.
It is the responsibility now of the Syrian authorities to deliver on what they have promised, and to implement, fully and unconditionally, all the commitments they have given to Joint Special Envoy Mr. nnan.
The continued support of the General Assembly for the efforts of the Joint Special Envoy remains vital at this critical time. I count on you for this.
The Syrian people deserve freedom, justice, prosperity and peace. Let us be united and determined in helping them to realize those goals.