Saturday 21 April 2012

“Air assets” deal clears way to Syria monitors

The 15-member UN Security Council is scheduled to vote at 1500 GMT on a single compromise resolution  that has been "put in blue" -- a UN parlance, which means it is  ready for a vote.
The resolution put in blue (reproduced in full hereunder)  combines the Russian and European drafts. It is expected to pass by a unanimous vote.
It authorizes the deployment of 300 unarmed observers for an initial period of three months and underlines "the need for the Syrian government and the UN to agree rapidly on appropriate air transportation assets" for the observer mission.
The European text had underlined "the need for the Syrian government to agree rapidly with the United Nations the independent use of air assets" by the observer mission. The Russian draft had made no mention of air assets.
Damascus had dismissed any need for UN aircraft. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said the monitors would need helicopters and other military hardware.
Syria said it is willing to allow UN observers to use its helicopters when necessary to evacuate wounded people. Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Beijing earlier in the week, “Syria is ready to make its air force available for the use of this (UN) mission. Helicopters are needed to evacuate the injured. If that is the issue, then we have the capabilities in our air force to carry this out.”
A researcher close to Syria wrote Friday, “Those helicopters Ban Ki-moon is dreaming of would be military helicopters from EU countries with military pilots and NATO standard encrypted radios. The U.S. having pledged ‘communication equipment’ to the insurgents, the helicopter pilots could direct them around military concentrations and roadblocks towards their targets. The Syrian government would be crazy to agree to such a scheme of transport for UN monitors.”
Text of the draft resolution as put in blue:
The Security Council,
Recalling its Resolution 2042 (2012), as well as its Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012 and 5 April 2012, and also recalling all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly,
Reaffirming its support to the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, and his work, following General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/253 of 16 February 2012 and relevant resolutions of the League of Arab States,
Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter,
Condemning the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups, recalling that those responsible shall be held accountable, and expressing its profound regret at the death of many thousands of people in Syria,
Expressing its appreciation of the significant efforts that have been made by the States bordering Syria to assist Syrians who have fled Syria’s borders as a consequence of the violence, and requesting UNHCR to provide assistance as requested by Member States receiving these displaced persons,
Expressing also its appreciation of the humanitarian assistance that has been provided to Syria by other States,
Noting the Syrian government's commitment on 25 March 2012 to implement the six-point proposal of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, and to implement urgently and visibly its commitments, as it agreed to do in its communication to the Envoy of 1 April 2012, to (a) cease troop movements towards population centers, (b) cease all use of heavy weapons in such centers, and (c) begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers, and to implement these in their entirety by no later than 10 April 2012, and noting also the Syrian opposition's expressed commitment to respect the cessation of violence, provided the government does so,
Expressing concern over ongoing violence and reports of casualties which have escalated again in recent days, following the Envoy’s assessment of 12 April 2012 that the parties appeared to be observing a cessation of fire and that the Syrian government had started to implement its commitments, and noting that the cessation of armed violence in all its forms is therefore clearly incomplete,
Supporting the Envoy’s call for an immediate and visible implementation by the Syrian government of all elements of the Envoy’s six-point proposal in their entirety to achieve a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties,
Taking note of the assessment by the Secretary-General that a United Nations monitoring mission deployed quickly when the conditions are conducive with a clear mandate, the requisite capacities, and the appropriate conditions of operation would greatly contribute to observing and upholding the commitment of the parties to a cessation of armed violence in all its forms and to supporting the implementation of the six-point plan,
Noting the 19 April 2012 Preliminary Understanding (S/2012/250) agreed between the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Nations which provides a basis for a protocol governing the Advance Team and, upon its deployment, the UN supervision mechanism,
Having considered the Secretary-General’s letter addressed to the President of Security Council (S/2012/238),
  1. Reaffirms its full support for and calls for the urgent, comprehensive, and immediate implementation of all elements of the Envoy's six-point proposal as annexed to resolution 2042 (2012) aimed at bringing an immediate end to all violence and human rights violations, securing humanitarian access and facilitating a Syrian-led political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations, ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition;
  2. Calls upon the Syrian government to implement visibly its commitments in their entirety, as it agreed to do in the Preliminary Understanding and as stipulated in Resolution 2042 (2012), to (a) cease troop movements towards population centers, (b) cease all use of heavy weapons in such centers, and (c) complete pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers, as well as to withdraw its troops and heavy weapons from population centers to their barracks or temporary deployment places to facilitate a sustained cessation of violence;
  3. Calls upon all parties in Syria, including the opposition, immediately to cease all armed violence in all its forms;
  4. Calls upon the Syrian armed opposition groups and relevant elements to respect relevant provisions of the Preliminary Understanding;
  5. Decides to establish immediately for an initial period of 90 days a United Nations supervision mission in Syria (UNSMIS) under the command of a Chief Military Observer, comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component as required by the Mission to fulfill its mandate, and decides further that the Mission shall be deployed expeditiously subject to assessment by the Secretary-General of relevant developments on the ground, including the consolidation of the cessation of violence;
  6. Decides also that the mandate of the Mission shall be to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and to monitor and support the full implementation of the Envoy’s six-point proposal;
  7. Requests that the Secretary-General and the Syrian government without delay conclude a Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA), taking into consideration General Assembly resolution 58/82 on the scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and notes the agreement between the Syrian government and the United Nations that, pending the conclusion of such an agreement, the model SOFA agreement of 9 October 1990 (A/45/594) shall apply provisionally;
  8. Calls upon the Syrian government to ensure the effective operation of UNSMIS by: facilitating the expeditious and unhindered deployment of its personnel and capabilities as required to fulfill its mandate; ensuring its full, unimpeded, and immediate freedom of movement and access as necessary to fulfill its mandate, underlining in this regard the need for the Syrian government and the United Nations to agree rapidly on appropriate air transportation assets for UNSMIS; allowing its unobstructed communications; and allowing it to freely and privately communicate with individuals throughout Syria without retaliation against any person as a result of interaction with UNSMIS;
  9. Calls upon the parties to guarantee the safety of the UNSMIS personnel without prejudice to its freedom of movement and access, and stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities;
  10. Requests the Secretary-General to report immediately to the Security Council any obstructions to the effective operation of UNSMIS by any party;
  11. Reiterates its call for the Syrian authorities to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance and calls upon all parties in Syria, in particular the Syrian authorities, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and relevant humanitarian organizations to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance;
  12. Invites all Member States to consider making appropriate contributions to UNSMIS as requested by the Secretary-General;
  13. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution within 15 days of its adoption and every 15 days thereafter, and also to submit, as necessary, to the Council proposals for possible adjustments to the UNSMIS mandate;
  14. Expresses its intention to assess the implementation of this resolution and to consider further steps as appropriate;
  15. Decides to remain seized of the matter.