The uprising in Syria reached a whole new level yesterday when former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan announced that he was to resign his position due to a lack of unity amongst countries at the UN Security Council. His announcement was made on the day that President Putin of Russia visited Prime Minister Cameron in the UK where no doubt the topic of Syria was raised. There has been a lack of any international military action in Syria due to both Russia and China vetoing proposals that are put forward. It is worth noting that the Russians have said they will continue to honor previous arms contracts to the Syrian government and this is likely to be one of the reasons why they reject military action.
The crisis in Syria has been ongoing for some 17 months, thousands of civilians have been brutally murdered and thousands more have been forced to flee the war torn country. As President Assad tries to grip onto power his days must surely be numbered as senior members of his team either defect or are killed. The international community must get a grip and agree on the right action now rather than sitting on the sidelines condemning the Syrian regime – actions speak louder than words. Kofi Annan’s 6 point peace plan which was also agreed with the Arab League has been ignored by President Assad and it is little wonder that Mr Annan has felt he has had to resign.
The very fact that the Assad regime has also threatened to use Weapons of Mass Destruction in the event of a foreign attack shows that the UN must tread carefully. Russia and China need to agree at least to minimal military force and additional sanctions on the country in order to bring an end to the murders of innocent civilians. We must remember why the United Nations was formed; to bring about peace amongst countries and prevent war. China, Russia and Syria are all members of the UN, they have signed up to the fundamental aims of the United Nations therefore they must work to promote peace.
The resignation statement from Kofi Annan is below.
“Five months ago, I was asked to take on the role of Joint Special Envoy for Syria, in order to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis, an end to the killings of civilians, the human rights abuses, and a path towards a political transition. I accepted this task, which some called “Mission Impossible” – for I believed it was a sacred duty to do whatever was in my power to help the Syrian people find a peaceful solution to this bloody conflict.
The severity of the humanitarian costs of the conflict, and the exceptional threats posed by this crisis to international peace and security, justified the attempts to secure a peaceful transition to a political settlement, however daunting the challenge.
The increasing militarization on the ground and the clear lack of unity in the Security Council, have fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role.
Yet the bloodshed continues, most of all because of the Syrian government’s intransigence, and continuing refusal to implement the six-point plan, and also because of the escalating military campaign of the opposition – all of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community.
At a time when we need – when the Syrian people desperately need action – there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.
The Geneva Communiqué, endorsed by the Action Group for Syria on 30 June, provided an international agreement on a framework for a political transition. This should have been automatically endorsed by the Security Council and something the international community should have built on.
Without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process.
You have to understand: as an Envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than the Security Council or the international community for that matter.
I have therefore informed the Secretary-General of the UN and Secretary-General of the Arab League today that I do not intend to continue my mission when my mandate expires at the end of August.
My central concern, from the start – and I think I mentioned it to you – has been the welfare of the Syrian people. Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity – if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary to compromise on their partial interests for the sake of the Syrian people – for the men, women and children who have already suffered far too much.
I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to both the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and Secretary-General ElAraby of the Arab League for their unflinching support and the grace and cordiality that they extended to me, having given me the opportunity to serve the cause of peace once again.”
(Resignation statement taken from the Kofi Annan Foundation)