UN Security Council Backs Envoy's Peace Plan for Syria

Current U.N. Security Council President and British Ambassador to the U.N. Lyall Grant reads a
Current U.N. Security Council President and British Ambassador to the U.N. Lyall Grant reads a "Presidential statement" agreed to by the Security Council, including Russia and China, that backs U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's bid to end violence on Sy

The U.N. Security Council has overcome some of its divisions on Syria and expressed its united support for the mission of the U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The call for Syrian cooperation comes after months of deadlock within the council on how to respond to the year-old Syrian crackdown on dissent.

After two vetoes from Russia and China in the past five months blocking council action on Syria, Wednesday’s pronouncement had the air of a breakthrough about it.

The Security Council backed a French-drafted statement which includes language that had been previously contentious, including references to a “political transition” in Syria, and a commitment to “further steps” by the council if necessary.

Known as a presidential statement, it requires consensus of all 15 members but does not carry the legally binding weight of a Security Council resolution. It is viewed as a serious message from the council.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who holds the council presidency this month, told reporters the statement is an “important sign” that the council is united behind Mr. Annan’s efforts.

“This sends precisely the strong and united message to the Syrian government and all other actors in Syria that they need to respond - and respond quickly and immediately - to the six-point plan that has been presented by Mr. Kofi Annan in Damascus,” said Lyall Grant.

That six-point plan includes the immediate cessation of violence, the pulling back of Syrian security forces from population centers, the release of arbitrarily detained persons and the implementation of a daily two-hour humanitarian pause to allow in relief supplies and assist the wounded.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Syrian ally Moscow is pleased with both the presidential statement and the simultaneous adoption of a press statement condemning the “terrorist” bombings that occurred in Damascus and Aleppo in recent days.

“We are very pleased that the Security Council has finally chosen to take a pragmatic look at the situation in Syria," Churkin said. "And we are very pleased that we have a process which we hope will continue and will bring about a settlement of the crisis in Syria, and will lead to an important Syrian-led political process in the country.”

But he rejected reporters’ suggestions that this might mark a shift in Russia’s position regarding its longtime ally.

Churkin said Moscow’s stance remains the same - it wants to see an end to the violence and a move toward a Syrian-led political dialogue.

While he did not allude to Russia’s arms sales to the Syrian government, he did criticize those parties who he said are arming the opposition, saying it is “very unhelpful” and is pushing the crisis in the “opposite” direction.

Because of the Security Council’s previous deadlock over Syria, the U.N. General Assembly stepped-in in February and authorized the secretary-general to appoint a special envoy for Syria. Working with the Arab League, Ban Ki-moon appointed his predecessor, Mr. Annan, as mediator.

Mr. Annan traveled to Damascus and presented the government with his six proposals for ending the crisis. But despite his efforts, and those of his small team currently in Syria, violence has continued unabated, with government forces pounding opposition positions in several cities.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs