Chronology of Events

revised on 27 February 2015

Syria

February 2015

On 6 February, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, briefed Council members in consultations on the chemical weapons track. The major focus of this meeting was the 4 February decision of the OPCW that created a reporting line back to the Council on the reports of the OPCW’s fact-finding mission on the use of chlorine bombs. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura briefed Council members on 17 February, announcing that Syria had indicated a willingness to halt all aerial bombardment over Aleppo for a period of six weeks. De Mistura could not say when such a freeze would go into effect, reporting that a date would be announced from Damascus. On 20 February, Council members held a closed Arria-formula meeting with the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria. Commissioners said they were considering whether to publicly release a list of alleged perpetrators of massive violations in the Syrian conflict. On 26 February, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang and High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres briefed the Council on the devastating humanitarian situation (S/PV.7394), presenting the latest Secretary-General’s report. Separately, on counter-terrorism, the Council adopted resolution 2199 on 12 February which addressed the funding of ISIS and Al-Nusra via illegal oil exports, traffic of cultural heritage, ransom payments and external donations. In sanctions-related developments, on 4 February the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee reviewed a list of pending issues that includes a US proposal to designate Jaysh Al-Shabi, a pro-government Syrian militia that has allegedly received arms from Iran. 

January 2015

On 6 January, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane briefed on the remaining tasks in the implementation of resolution 2118, such as the gaps in Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile and the destruction of chemical weapons production facilities in Syria. Discussion of the OPCW fact-finding mission reports on Syria’s use of chlorine bombs (S/2014/955) featured prominently during the 6 January consultations. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang briefed the Council on 28 January on the most recent report on the humanitarian situation in Syria (S/2015/48). Following Kang’s briefing, Council members Jordan, New Zealand and Spain proposed press elements that thanked the neighbouring countries and expressed concern that resolutions 2165 and 2191 lacked effective implementation in Syria. The press elements called for full implementation of all of the Council’s resolutions and statements on the humanitarian situation in Syria. Council members expressed concern about the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the Syrian crisis as well as violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Finally, there was emphasis that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution.

December 2014

On 3 December 2014, Special Adviser Sigrid Kaag provided her last briefing to Council members on the chemical weapons track. She focused on remaining tasks in the implementation of resolution 2118, such as the verification of the ongoing destruction of chemicals outside Syria, plans to complete the destruction of chemical weapons production facilities in Syria by the summer of 2015 and clarification of any discrepancies in Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile. Syria’s use of chlorine bombs was also discussed. The Council adopted resolution 2191 on 17 December 2014, extending until 10 January 2016 the humanitarian access provisions of resolution 2165—the authorisation to deliver aid across borders and conflict lines without Syria’s consent and the monitoring mechanism that ensures the humanitarian nature of such aid convoys. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos had briefed the Council two days earlier, reporting that brutality, violence and callous disregard for human life were the hallmark of the Syrian crisis (S/PV.7342). On 30 December 2014, the P3, current Council members Jordan and Lithuania and then-Council members Australia, Luxembourg and the Republic of Korea transmitted to the Security Council the OPCW fact-finding mission reports on Syria’s use of chlorine bombs (S/2014/955).

November 2014

Special Adviser Sigrid Kaag briefed the Council on 5 November, reporting on the destruction plan for chemical weapons production facilities, to be completed by the summer of 2015. Council members also discussed the 10 September fact-finding report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW), which found evidence that chlorine had been consistently and repeatedly used in barrel bombs dropped from helicopters. While the report did not attribute blame, only the government has aerial capacity. On 18 November, the Council issued a press statement that condemned ISIS for the murder of US aid worker Peter Kassig. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos briefed the Council on 25 November, reporting that resolution 2165 had enabled assistance to enter more hard-to-reach locations via cross-border access and that the UN and its partners are planning to scale up deliveries in the weeks and months ahead (S/PV.7324). She also presented the 21 November Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/840) that stated since the adoption of resolution 2165, there had been 30 cross-border aid deliveries and while cross-line deliveries within Syria occur, they remain difficult. 

October 2014

On 3 October, the Council issued a press statement condemning the 1 October twin bomb attacks on a school complex in a government controlled area of Homs and a press statement condemning ISIS for the murder of UK aid worker Alan Henning. Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Council on 7 October, reporting on the destruction plan for chemical weapons production facilities in Syria—in particular the four additional facilities disclosed by Syria only in September. She also updated Council members on the 10 September OPCW report that found evidence that chlorine had been used consistently and repeatedly in barrel bombs dropped from helicopters. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura briefed Council members on 30 October on possible ways to revive the political process following his meetings with key players in Damascus, Amman, Ankara, Beirut, Cairo, Moscow, Riyadh and Tehran (S/PV.7293). Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang also briefed on 30 October and presented the Secretary-General’s report on the humanitarian situation in Syria. On 30 October, the Council issued a press statement expressing support for the role and efforts of de Mistura. On 31 October, the Council issued a press statement condemning the aerial bombardment, by the use of barrel bombs, of a displaced persons camp in Idlib on 29 October, leaving many dead and injured, including children.

September 2014

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Council on 4 September, reporting on the destruction plan for the 12 chemical weapons production facilities in Syria and on the successor arrangements to carry out the remaining verification and inspection activities under resolution 2118. During the 4 September consultations, many Council members also exhibited an interest in keeping a reporting line open to the Council regarding the use of chlorine bombs. On 6 September, the Council issued a press statement condemning ISIS for the murder of a US journalist, Steven Sotloff. On 14 Setpember, the Council issued a press statement condemning ISIS for the murder of UK aid worker, David Haines. On 30 September, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos reported that since the adoption of resolution 2165, there had been 14 cross-border aid deliveries, but cross-line deliveries within Syria remain difficult (S/PV.7273).

August 2014

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Council on 5 August, reporting that on 24 July, the OPCW had agreed to a destruction plan for the 12 production facilities in Syria—the facilities were to have been destroyed by 15 March. On 25 August, the Secretary-General said that successor arrangements to the OPCW-UN Joint Mission were being established to carry out the remaining verification and inspection activities under resolution 2118 and that reporting to the Security Council would continue. On 15 August, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2170, which condemned ISIS and al-Nusrah Front for the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters. It also listed six individuals affiliated with these groups under the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida sanctions regime and expressed the Council’s readiness to list others involved in financing or facilitating the travel of foreign terrorist fighters. On 22 August, Council members issued a press statement condemning the 19 August beheading of US journalist James Foley by ISIS. On 28 August, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang briefed the Council on humanitarian access (S/PV.7252). She reported that since the adoption of resolution 2165, there had been five cross-border aid deliveries, some improvement in access to Aleppo, Dar’a and rural Damascus and that medical supplies had reached a number of opposition held areas. However, access continued to decline in government and ISIS controlled areas and that key elements of resolution 2139 remained unimplemented, such as medical neutrality, ceasing aerial bombardments and easing administrative hurdles.

July 2014

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Council on 7 July, reporting that the final 7.2 percent of declared chemical weapons was removed from Syria on 23 June. On 10 July, the new Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura was appointed. The Council adopted resolution 2165 on 14 July, authorising cross-border and cross-line access for the UN and its partners to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria without state consent, creating the potential to help 2.9 million people in need (S/PV.7216). The resolution authorised access through four border crossings and a mechanism to monitor aid convoys and to notify Syrian authorities. The first such convoy traversed the Bab al-Salam crossing from Turkey on 24 July. On 25 July, Security Council members met with the Commission of Inquiry in a closed Arria-formula format in New York. Over three years, the Commission collated testimonies indicating a massive number of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed. The scale of government violations continues to outpace that of the opposition, with aerial bombardment, targeting highly populated areas, systematic and widespread reports of deaths and torture in government detention centres. Under Secretary-General Valerie Amos briefed Council members on humanitarian access for the first time under resolution 2165 on 30 July. On 28 July, the Council adopted a presidential statement addressing the seizure of the oilfields and pipelines in Syria and Iraq by ISIS and al-Nusra to finance terrorism. The statement stressed that all states are required to ensure that their nationals and any persons within their territory do not trade in oil with these entities.

June 2014

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Council on 4 June, reporting that the 30 June deadline for the completion of all removal and destruction activities would be missed. Kaag reiterated that other important issues remained such as verification work, the destruction of production facilities and clarification of the declared chemical weapons stockpile. There was also a discussion of the OPCW’s fact-finding mission to investigate allegations that the regime had used chlorine-filled bombs against civilians. On 10 June, High Commissioner Navi Pillay, during her opening statement to the Human Rights Council, regretted the Security Council’s inability to ensure accountability in Syria and deplored that war crimes and crimes against humanity are commonplace in Syria and occur with complete impunity. On 26 June, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos briefed Council members, presenting a report that clearly demonstrates that the regime has used the distribution of humanitarian aid as a tactic of war (S/PV.7212). She reported that there continues to be no progress in implementing any of the key demands in resolution 2139, such as authorising cross-border aid operations, allowing access to besieged or hard-to-reach areas, observing medical neutrality, ceasing aerial bombardments or easing administrative hurdles.

May 2014

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Council on 8 May, reporting that Syria had missed the extended deadline of 27 April for the complete removal of its declared chemical weapons materiel. The remaining 7.2 percent includes precursors to produce sarin, held at one site that could not be reached due to the security situation. There was also a discussion of the OPCW’s 29 April announcement that it would deploy a fact-finding mission to investigate allegations that the regime had used chlorine-filled bombs against civilians. On 13 May, UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi resigned and briefed Council members on the failure of the Geneva peace talks, largely due to the government’s intransigence. On 22 May, China and Russia cast their fourth joint veto on Syria and blocked the French draft resolution referring Syria to the ICC, co-sponsored by 65 member states. All other Council members voted in favour of the referral (S/PV.7180). On 29 May, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang briefed Council members on humanitarian access. The most recent Secretary-General’s report did not indicate any progress in implementation of resolution 2139’s key demands, such as authorising cross-border aid operations, allowing access in besieged or hard-to-reach areas, observing medical neutrality, ceasing aerial bombardments or easing administrative hurdles. In fact, access dropped significantly since the last reporting period due to a new transport mechanism put in place by the government. The report said that the government failed its responsibility to look after its own people and that its arbitrary denial of aid, in particular by not opening relevant border crossings, which is a violation of resolution 2139 and international law. The report called on the Security Council to urgently consider its next steps to ensure compliance with its demands.

April 2014

On 15 April, France convened an “Arria-formula” meeting for the authors of Report into the Credibility of Certain Evidence with regard to Torture and Execution of Persons Incarcerated by the Current Syrian Regime (codenamed the Caesar Report) to present their work to Council members. Also at France’s request, humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco briefed Council members on 17 April on the situation in Homs, where the local government and local opposition had almost reached agreement on the evacuation of civilians and fighters from the besieged old city. However, the authorities abruptly stopped negotiations, and on 15 April the government renewed its assault on Homs. It seems the briefing and discussions in consultations focused on the coercive elements of localised ceasefires in besieged areas, in which the government uses bombardment and starvation tactics to bring communities to their knees. Amos briefed Council members again on 30 April to present the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of resolution 2139 (S/2014/295). The report said that the arbitrary denial of humanitarian access was a violation of international humanitarian law, and it called on the Security Council to take action. Regarding chemical weapons, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Mission Sigrid Kaag briefed Council members twice in April reporting significant, but not yet complete, removal of declared chemical weapons material. On 3 April she warned that further delay would make it increasingly unrealistic to meet the 30 June completion deadline. The US requested an additional briefing on 23 April for an update on removal activity ahead of the 27 April deadline. 

March 2014 

Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission Sigrid Kaag briefed Council members on 5 March, reporting that despite several missed deadlines Syria and the OPCW had reached agreement on a revised deadline for full removal of chemical weapons material by the end of April. UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi delivered a pessimistic message to Council members on 13 March and to the General Assembly on 14 March about the prospects for the Geneva process to deliver a tangible outcome. He said that the current blockage is due to the government’s unwillingness to accept the proposals on the table and that a third round of talks will be meaningless if there are no constructive ideas to break the stalemate. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos briefed Council members on 28 March, reporting continuing aerial bombardments by the government and increasing use of car bombs and suicide attacks by extremist groups. France drafted a press statement expressing support for Brahimi and the resumption of talks based on genuine engagement by all parties. The draft underlined the centrality of forming a transitional governing body and emphasised that elections should be organised within the framework of the Geneva peace talks. Russia objected to referencing elections and to any language specifying how an approach to the resumption of talks should be sequenced, i.e. tackling issues of terrorism and forming a transitional government in parallel. In the end, the press statement was not issued due to Russia’s objections.