Annan's plan faltering, UNSC entrusts Ban to explore 'variety of options' |
Kuwait News Agency - 08 June, 2012
Now that Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan admitted that his six-point peace plan is faltering because Damascus is refusing to implement it, the Security Council late Thursday mandated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to explore a "variety of options" for the way ahead in Syria.
The fresh mandate amid divergence of opinion on Iran's role in any future plan to establish peace in the strife-stricken country.
Flanked by Annan and the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El Araby, Ban told reporters following a Council closed-door meeting to discuss the Syrian crisis, "No one can predict how the situation in Syria will evolve. We must be prepared for any eventuality; we must be ready to respond to many possible scenarios. At the request of the Security Council, I will soon present a variety of options for the way ahead," he announced.
He said the killing the world witnessed in recent weeks is "indicative of a pattern that may amount to crimes against humanity. The confrontations in certain areas of the country have taken on the character of an internal conflict, subject to international humanitarian law and possible war crimes prosecution."
He said he was encouraged by a strong commitment and unity of voices among all Council members in condemning recent massacres. "They were all passionate in speaking out for the necessity of taking action. But let me say here that we need bolder action. We must speak with one voice, and we must act now."
Insisting that the Annan peace plan "remains at the centre of our efforts," he said "at the same time, in view of the deteriorating situation, I would welcome further international discussions on the way forward."
He suggested the upcoming G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, later this month would be an "important opportunity. I will be there and I expect key stakeholders to take advantage of this gathering to discuss the crisis in its full depth and breadth."
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin reiterated his country's proposal to hold an international conference on Syria to be held "as soon as possible" with the participants of the Council's permanent members - US, UK, France, Russia and China - and regional players, including Iran.
El Araby told reporters he was mandated by the Arab Foreign Ministers when they met in Doha last week to convey to the Council their "deep concern and that 'enough is enough'. We cannot accept any more killing of innocent people, whether on this side or that side. They are all Syrians, and the fighting has to stop."
He said the message he brought with him from the Ministers is "calling for the Security Council to apply the provision of Chapter VII, relating to Article 41, that does not envisage the use of force, and that all kinds of pressure should be exerted and exerted now. Fighting has to stop. We cannot let down the Syrian people anymore."
Annan refused to admit that his six-point peace plan is dead.
"Let me say that I'm not sure whether it is the plan that is dead or it is the implementation that is lacking," he argued.
He said what the Council members have been discussing late Thursday is "what needs to be done to push implementation and what will be the consequences if implementation is not carried forward, if this plan is not working or if we decide it is not the way to go, we should be looking at (other) options."
The six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
Annan confirmed press reports that there are discussions going on about the possibility of establishing a contact group that would include countries with "real influence on the situation, that can influence either side," the Government or the opposition. This group, according to press reports, would include the Council's five permanent members, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran. He said "I think Iran, as an important country in the region, I hope will be part of the solution." US Ambassador Susan Rice disagreed. "I think Iran is part of the problem in Syria at the present. There is no question that it is actively engaged in supporting the government in perpetrating the violence on the ground. Now, were it to stop, obviously that would be significant. But it hasn't shown any propensity to stop, and it continues to be actively engaged. They (Iranians) are playing the role of a spoiler," she told reporters.
Annan expressed hope that the contact group would come together and look at the problems in a "coldly, realistic manner," really look at the issues and say, 'let's cooperate' and probably suggest a roadmap for the Syrians to consider and work really to steer everybody in the same direction. We may make progress." Ban described the proposed contact group as a "very valuable idea, worth our serious consideration," adding that all the discussions about it are at a "very early stage." El Araby also voiced satisfaction about the contact group proposal, saying "any meeting, any contact group - call it what you want - that would be action-oriented and would lead to results, results that will cause the violence to stop, should be welcomed." Ban said that during the Council informal meeting, many members proposed measures which should be taken as a way to keep sustained pressure on the Syrian authorities, as a way to stop the violence and protect human rights and commence political negotiations.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall-Grant, for instance, supported by German Ambassador Peter Wittig, told reporters "I suggested (in the Council) that the time had come when the Security Council should strengthen its support for the (Annan) plan, including through a Chapter VII resolution with clear time lines and triggers for sanctions in the event of non-compliance." Over 10,000 people were killed in Syria since March 2011 after pro-democracy protesters took to the streets calling for the ouster of the Assad regime.