The Security Council voted on 21 April to deploy a supervision mission comprising 300 unarmed military observers, including civilian experts, to Syria. The observers will be sent to Syria for an initial 90-day period once UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is satisfied that the Syrian authorities are complying with their obligations. The agreement builds on last week’s resolution authorising an advance team of observers to be sent to Syria to prepare for the deployment of a larger supervision mission.
Since the deployment of the advance team last week, the violence in Syria has continued. The Syrian authorities have also failed to comply with their obligations, which include stopping the fighting and withdrawing troops and heavy weapons from population centres. Moreover, a lack of helicopters means that the observers are unable to visit conflict-ridden areas. If they are to succeed, the observers must be given full freedom of movement.
“The Syrian authorities have not given the advance team of observers the freedom of movement or the access it was promised. We must therefore have realistic expectations as to what the observers can achieve, in the absence of a genuine willingness to cooperate on the part of the Syrian authorities. Nevertheless, I hope that the presence of the supervision mission, once it is deployed, can help to limit the use of violence in the country,” Mr Støre said.
“This is a high-risk mission, and it is just the first step towards implementing Kofi Annan’s peace plan. The supervision mission is no substitute for a peaceful, political solution to the crisis in Syria that safeguards the Syrian people’s rights to democracy and freedom. At best, the observers can help to improve the security situation, which would increase the chances of achieving an inclusive political transition,” commented Mr Støre.