New York

14 March 2014

Secretary-General's remarks to the Informal Meeting of the General Assembly on Syria

This week, the people of Syria crossed another blood-soaked milestone. 

The conflict in their country is now raging into its fourth year.  The political process, finally launched this January, is in crisis.

Two days ago, I appealed to the international community to take a hard look at the horrors of Syria.

Before our eyes – before the eyes of the Security Council and the General Assembly -- hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost or destroyed. 

Children are being deprived of hope.  Communities are being threatened and attacked. 

Millions in Syria have been forced to flee violence and deprivation. Cities and villages have been reduced to rubble. The world’s cultural heritage is under grave threat.

And it is only getting worse. Extremists are imposing their radical ideologies, introducing discriminatory practices and limiting people’s freedoms.

Adding fuel to the inferno, weapons and fighters continue to flow to warring sides in Syria.

Those who believe in a military solution are making a political solution even more distant and elusive.  Weapons are being used indiscriminately – mortars, artillery and military aviation. 

If the arsenal for atrocities was not enough, the Syrian war has introduced a brutal and blatant  form of weaponry:  Barrel bombs designed to indiscriminately kill and maim.

Moreover, Syria has seen the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century. The world is united in horror to ensure that chemical weapons will not be used again in Syria.
But most of death and suffering in Syria is inflicted with the use of conventional arms.

Amid this spreading chaos, grave crimes remain unpunished and thousands remain in captivity without due process. 

There is no justice.  There is no peace. 

The international community has a responsibility not to allow lawlessness to thrive.  We must pursue accountability with all the mechanisms and authority at our disposal.

Syria is the world’s biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis.

Syria’s neighbours are bearing the increasingly worsening humanitarian, security, political and socio-economic consequences of this conflict.

I deeply regret the failure of the international community, represented by all of us in this hall, the region and the Syrians themselves, to put a stop to this appalling conflict.

The Syrian people desperately need an end to violence and a clean break from the past to move towards a new Syria, where their legitimate aspirations are met and all communities are protected.

The international community cannot lose focus or look the other way. The effects and threats of this conflict will only grow and spread.

We welcome the recent efforts to improve humanitarian access, so that aid can reach those desperately in need. But only a political solution will end the nightmare of the Syrian people.

I wish to pay tribute to the UN Staff and other humanitarian partners who are delivering aid to millions of suffering Syrian men, women and children. I salute the memory of the 14 UN staff who have made the ultimate sacrifice, alongside 34 young volunteers of the Syrian Red Crescent.

I would like to draw attention to those of our colleagues who have been imprisoned or are missing and call on the Syrian Government or other parties holding them to release them.

I appeal once again to the region and the international community.  I make a special call to the Russian Federation and the United States, as the initiating States of the Geneva Conference on Syria:  Take clear steps to reenergize the Geneva process.

I also have a message to the Syrian Government and opposition forces:  exercise responsibility, leadership, vision and flexibility to rise to the challenge.

Working with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the Syrian sides and regional and international actors must act now to bring the tragedy in Syria to an end.

How many more meetings must we convene? 

How many more speeches must we deliver to recount the latest bloodshed?

The world has run out of words to describe the mayhem. 

When will the world run out of excuses and finally act to end it?