Saturday, April 21, 2012

UN Security Council Approves Observer Mission to Syria

The Security Council today authorized the establishment of a United Nations observer mission to Syria, for an initial period 90 days, to monitor the cessation of violence there, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of a peace plan.  In a unanimous decision, Council members passed a resolution calling for the formation of the "United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component."  The resolution also called for UNSMIS to be "deployed expeditiously subject to assessment by the Secretary-General of relevant developments on the ground, including the consolidation of the cessation of violence."

The violence in Syria, which began in March last year as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has clai
med over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands of people. Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had provided the Council with his assessment of the latest developments in the Middle Eastern country, in which he recommended the establishment of a UN supervision mission.  In addition to calling on all parties, including the opposition, to immediately cease all armed violence for full access of humanitarian workers to those in need, the Council's resolution also called for the "urgent, comprehensive and immediate implementation" of all elements of the six-point peace plan, which had been put forward in March by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan.  Mr. Annan's six-point proposal calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, and the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people.

In a statement issued after the Council's decision today, the Secretary-General's spokesperson said Mr. Ban strongly welcomed the Council's decision, and that the deployment of UNSMIS will proceed expeditiously, in line with the Council's resolution.  "The Secretary-General calls upon the Government of Syria and other parties swiftly to create the conditions necessary for the deployment of the mission," the spokesperson added. "He stresses the need for the Government of Syria to end all violence and human rights violations, and in particular to stop the use of heavy weapons and to withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centres."   The statement noted that the UN chief expects the Government of Syria to ensure the effective operation of UNSMIS, including "full, unimpeded, and immediate" freedom of movement and access, and unobstructed communications, as well as its safety.  "The Secretary-General hopes that the establishment of UNSMIS, with the united and determined support of the Security Council, will help stop the killing and suffering in Syria, and contribute to move the country towards pluralism and democracy," Mr. Ban's spokesperson said.

In relation to UNSMIS's freedom of movement, the Council resolution underlined the need for the Syrian Government and the United Nations to agree rapidly on appropriate air assets for the observers, to which the spokesperson said the Secretary-General looks forward to an expeditious agreement on the issue.

(UN Press Release)

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