United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen Briefing to the Security Council on Syria, 25 February 2022 – Syrian Arab Republic
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1/. Each month, I draw your attention to the fact that Syrians across the country and those who are displaced face poverty and hunger at higher levels than at any time during the conflict. Joyce will update you on the latest humanitarian situation. But let me emphasize that the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2585 is important not only for humanitarian reasons, but also in the context of building confidence. For my part, I remain resolutely determined to implement my mandate set out in Security Council resolution 2254 to convene the Syrian parties in the formal political process and to exercise their good offices to promote the full implementation of the resolution. in a way that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and restores the full sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.
2/. Militarily, the front lines remain unchanged, but we still see all the signs of an ongoing burning conflict. Any of a number of flashpoints could ignite a larger conflagration. We continue to see mutual shelling, skirmishes, IEDs and frontline security incidents in the northwest, northeast and southwest. Again, we saw more violence across international borders – drone strikes in the northeast; the Israeli strikes in the south and in Damascus; and other security incidents on the Syrian-Jordanian border, which Amman says are linked to drug trafficking. And we have seen Security Council-listed terrorist groups active throughout Syria; note here the US ground operation that killed the leader of ISIL.
3/. It is clear that there is an impasse, that there is acute suffering and that a political solution is the only way out. This requires a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process, which must be supported by constructive international diplomacy – as difficult as that is, and especially at this time.
4/. I am pleased to announce that we have now set a date for the convening of the 7th session of the small Syrian-led, UN-facilitated body of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva on March 21. The context here is that, on the last day of the 6th session, the co-chairs agreed among themselves that the committee needed a mechanism to improve the functioning on the 5th day of the session, and, with my facilitation, they managed to an agreement on how this could be done.
5/. It is important that the work of the Small Body continues – and in such a way that it builds confidence. The positions of the parties are substantially far apart and narrowing their differences will inevitably be a gradual process. But, in accordance with the terms of reference and the basic rules of procedure, what we need is a sense of compromise and a constructive engagement on the part of all delegations, so that the Committee works quickly and continuously to produce results and continuous progress, without foreign interference or externally imposed delays. The co-chairs agreed to future sessions in May and June 2022 and to discuss a work plan, which is clearly needed.
6/. In the meantime, I have continued and will continue to work on the broader process of implementing other elements of Security Council Resolution 2254 that fall outside the constitutional basket. I am conducting an ongoing process of consultations to determine how this could be done. At the same time, I also continued to engage with the Syrian parties, meeting with the Syrian government in Damascus and the Syrian Commission for Negotiations in Istanbul and Geneva. And I had in-depth discussions with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Turkey and Russia in their capitals this month.
7/. Security Council Resolution 2254 speaks to the need for political negotiation and confidence-building measures to sustain progress, and lists a series of details in this regard. With this in mind, as I continue to moderate the Constitutional Committee, I have sought to identify areas where consensus could be found on a series of reciprocal confidence-building measures in resolution 2254 that could be implemented in parallel, step by step – and in the process, to explore how a broader political process could be built to tackle all the issues in the resolution.
8/. As I told the Council last month, I ask the interlocutors not only what they would demand, but also what they could put on the table. It would be a question of moving forward step by step on the files through precise, verifiable commitments and implemented in parallel. I listen carefully to all the interlocutors on the way in which they think it is possible to progress. I thank everyone who has engaged so far and appreciate the constructive ideas that have been shared so far. I look forward to further consultations with those I have not yet been able to consult and to participate in other rounds of engagements.
9/. Following my last presentation to this Council, I have consulted with the Women’s Advisory Council in Norway and look forward to welcoming them to Switzerland from 14-21 March. Meanwhile, on Sunday, I meet with a diverse group of Syrian civil society representatives invited to thematic consultations through the Civil Society Support Room in Geneva. I very much look forward to resuming this direct engagement and hearing their comments, suggestions and ideas. I am always encouraged and inspired to see them engage constructively on how to rebuild a Syrian society based on common civic values of independence, participation, plurality, transparency, dialogue and equality, despite their own life stories and diverse narratives.
ten/. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people desperately want an end to this conflict, to see fundamental improvements to their shattered lives and to live in safety and dignity. And they want to see progress on the detainees, abductees and missing persons file, which continues to affect the lives of so many families in every corner of Syria. Intensified action with regard to releases – especially of women, children, the sick and the elderly – and the sharing of information on the fate and whereabouts of missing persons is more vital than ever. .
11/. During my last round of consultations, I had hoped that we could begin to find a way towards a functioning political process to implement resolution 2254. I am obviously very concerned that the constructive international diplomacy necessary to make advancing this may prove more difficult than it already is. was, in the context of military operations in Ukraine.
12/. For my part, I will continue to focus on engaging and convening Syrian parties and broad consultation. We will convene a series of Constitutional Committee meetings in March, May and June; and we will continue to roll out a series of step-by-step consultations as part of the broader issues in 2254 and how we can move forward.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.