As the conflict in Syria enters its twelfth year – marking another grim milestone – Syrians continue to suffer in profound ways, and the hardship is only deepening. The Secretary-General has noted the horrific and appalling nature of this war, and his appeal is a reminder that, above all, the Syrian people need, and deserve, a political solution to this conflict.
That is why I continue to engage the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission, the men and women of Syria as widely as I can, and all key international actors, with one goal in mind – to promote the implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). My message to all is the same: a military solution is an illusion. This was always so, but it is now plain for all to see. There have been no shifts in the frontlines for two years. We face a continuing stalemate, and at the same time, we see growing humanitarian needs and a socio-economic collapse.
The way out of this impasse is for the parties to forge a political solution that can end the suffering of the Syrian people, restore Syria’s sovereignty, and enable the Syrian people to determine their own future. This is perfectly doable if the political will is there – and there are real steps within the parties’ reach that could engender some trust and confidence. I am pleased that the Constitutional Committee meets again soon in Geneva, and I believe it needs to move substantively forward on its mandate. With frontlines frozen, there is every reason to try to build a true nationwide ceasefire. With international terrorism still a threat, parties share an interest and a duty to cooperate against it. With humanitarian needs growing and economic conditions worsening, and with so much of the country destroyed, it is essential for all sides to take measures to reverse these negative trends and move further with early recovery – and indeed to address socio-economic challenges more broadly. With all sides affected by the plight of the detained, the abducted and the missing, it is time to make bigger steps forward on this issue. If refugees and IDPs are to return voluntarily and in safety and dignity, a safe, calm, neutral environment is needed on the ground, as is enhanced donor support.
In short, I believe a series of reciprocal confidence-building measures in resolution 2254 could be implemented in parallel, step-for step – and in the process, a broader political process could be constructed to tackle all the issues in the resolution and bring about its full implementation. My sincere appeal to the Syrian parties and all key international actors is to work with the United Nations effort in order to help advance this shared goal.