What's In Blue

Posted Thu 12 Apr 2012

Syria Draft Resolution

The Council is working towards adopting a resolution authorising the deployment of an advance team of unarmed military observers to Syria to supervise the cessation of violence by all parties. (If the resolution is adopted tomorrow, such an advance monitoring team could be on the ground as early as next week and is likely to be drawn from existing personnel in the region including the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).)

Council members moved swiftly in response to this morning’s video-link briefing from UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, meeting at deputy permanent representative level this afternoon to negotiate the draft resolution. Annan informed Council members that cessation of hostilities appeared to be holding from 6 am today. He requested the deployment of an advance team as soon as possible to sustain the moment of calm and allow for the initiation of political dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition elements. However, he also informed Council members that Syria had not fully complied with the six-point plan, in particular with the pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers.

It appears the draft resolution details the freedom of access and movement required in order for the advance team to effectively function. (Such terms would likely also apply to any future deployment of a full observer mission if the cessation of violence holds.) It seems the draft resolution also warns of the consequences- such as withdrawal of the advance team- if there is any obstruction to the team’s freedom of movement and access. In addition, the draft resolution apparently also reaffirms the Council’s full support for all elements of the six-point plan and calls on the Syrian government to visibly implement its commitments, in particular the withdrawal of its military back to barracks; for all parties to cease violence in all forms; and immediate and full humanitarian access.

It seems the draft being negotiated also signals the Council’s intent to consider further measures in the case of non-compliance and asks the Secretary-General to report back to the Council on implementation of the resolution. It is possible that some members may not wish to have such definitive language on future action.

Council members remain unanimously supportive of Annan’s six-point plan and swift deployment of a small advance team of observers. That broad position was reiterated in comments to the press today by the permanent representatives of China, Russia and the United States. However, one point raised by Russia during today’s press stakeout was the need for clear commitment by the opposition to cease violence and engage in political dialogue and it is possible that Russia may wish to have language related to this point strengthened in the draft text. While at press time it was unclear what issues might emerge during negotiations and despite the consensus to respond rapidly to Annan’s request, given past difficulty in agreeing to a resolution on Syria, it is likely that the negotiations will be complex and possibly protracted.

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