Let me first express my deep concern about the situation on the ground in Syria and the devastating impact it is having on civilians.
Security Council Briefings (Text)
2023 has been another very difficult year for Syria. A year that saw devastating earthquakes, humanitarian needs reaching new highs, the economy plummeting to new lows, and the worst violence in three years.
Let me start with the ongoing and urgent need for de-escalation in Syria and across the region, which remains the most pressing matter at hand. We remain deeply concerned about the prospect of a potentially wider escalation in Syria.
Since March 2020, the Syrian conflict has been in a kind of strategic stalemate characterized by static front lines, persistent violence and sporadic escalations, with de facto authorities entrenching their control and five foreign armies present and active.
I have engaged in several weeks of intensive diplomacy on Syria in Geneva, Beirut, Damascus, and New York, meeting the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiations Commission several times, and all key international actors.
The Syrian people both inside and outside Syria continue to suffer acutely from the conflict in all its dimensions, and the absence of a genuine political process is deeply detrimental to their well-being.
For several months, we have been urging and advising that the new diplomatic context surrounding the Syrian conflict could act as a circuit breaker – if there was substantive engagement.
The past month, the violence and suffering experienced by the Syrian people have reminded us all of what is at stake as diplomatic efforts continue on Syria.
Last month, when I briefed you in New York, I said that new diplomatic activity in the region could be an opportunity, if seized.
We are at a potentially important juncture in efforts to move forward a political process on Syria. In the tragic aftermath of the earthquakes, we have seen renewed diplomatic attention on Syria.
I have just returned to Geneva from Amman where I briefed and engaged senior officials from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and the League of Arab States, focusing on the way
The earthquakes that recently struck Turkiye and Syria have caused unspeakable suffering for millions of people. The Syrians affected - in both countries - were already deep into one of the greatest humanitarian crises of this century, after 12 merciless years of war and conflict.
As we move into 2023, the Syrian people remain trapped in a profound humanitarian, political, military, security, economic and human rights crisis of great complexity and almost unimaginable scale.
Two weeks ago, I visited Damascus to continue my discussion with the Syrian government on advancing the political process to implement resolution 2254. As I did so, conditions on the ground were pointing in worrying directions.
In repeated briefings, I have warned of the dangers of military escalation in Syria. I am here in person today to tell you that escalatory dynamics are indeed taking place, and this is worrying and dangerous.
Let me first thank all those Syrians, from inside and outside Syria, who continue to engage with us – especially Syrian women. In a few days, we mark the 22nd anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325.
The Special Envoy briefed you two weeks ago on his latest engagement to move the political process forward. Since then, he has engaged Arab, European, Iranian, Russian, Turkish and US representatives in Geneva, and appreciates their support.
I have since early 2020 stressed that frontlines have been frozen, and I have urged that this relative calm provided the window to build a credible political process. However, this opportunity has so far not been seized.
Last week the Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General Griffiths briefed you on the very grave humanitarian situation in Syria.
Syria is a hot conflict, not a frozen one. We have seen airstrikes in the northwest pick up again and intensified clashes around Afrin and the northeast, amid continued exchanges of rocket fire and shelling across all frontlines, IEDs, car bombs and other security incidents.
I am briefing you today from Geneva at the end of the 4th day of the 7th Session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.
Every month I draw your attention to the fact that Syrians across the country – and those who are displaced - are facing poverty and hunger at levels higher than at any point in the conflict.
Let me at the outset stress that Syrians continue to suffer deeply and that violence in Syria is indeed continuing.
We meet at another year’s end, and we can only look back on 2021 as a year of deepening suffering of the Syrian people.
Last week, between 18 and 22 October, I convened the Sixth Session of the Small Body of the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated Constitutional Committee in Geneva.
Last week, a grim announcement reminded us of the appalling suffering and losses of the Syrian people.
Over the past seventeen months, I have been informing you that, as compared with past phases of the conflict, there was a relative calm in Syria across largely frozen front lines of conflict.
An imminent priority is of course the humanitarian situation, and let me fully reiterate the Secretary-General’s appeal when he briefed you on Wednesday. Civilians across the country desperately need life-saving assistance and help building resilience.
We take note that today a presidential election is being held under the auspices of the current constitution. As indicated previously, this is not part of the political process called for in Security Council resolution 2254.
The Syrian Women’s Advisory Board are meeting in Geneva this week - for the first time in person for a year. I thank the Swiss authorities for enabling this.