Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2043 (2012) (S/2012/523)
On 21 April 2012, the Security Council adopted resolution 2043 (2012), by which it established the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic (UNSMIS) for an initial period of 90 days with a mandate to monitor the cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties, and to monitor and support the full implementation of the six-point plan endorsed by the Council in its resolution 2042 (2012). The present report provides a comprehensive account of the implementation of resolution 2043 (2012), including the six-point plan.
The crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is the consequence of a combination of factors, including that the State has failed to respond to the legitimate political, economic and social demands of its people, as well as its position in a complex region. The response of the security apparatus to what started as peaceful demonstrations led to armed clashes. In recent months, the crisis has become increasingly violent and militarized. The State’s campaign of violently suppressing dissent, which from the outset employed excessive and lethal force against peaceful demonstrators, was followed by defections and the formation of anti-Government armed groups.
In parallel, the President of the Syrian Arab Republic announced a series of actions in pursuit of a programme aimed at political and governance reforms. A popular referendum endorsing a new national constitution was held on 26 February, followed by parliamentary elections on 7 May and the appointment of a new Government on 23 June. These initiatives, which were taken unilaterally and took place amid continuing violence throughout the country, failed to meet the demands of the opposition.
The political opposition has been formed in the country and in exile. The Syrian National Council, comprising a diverse set of members, is recognized by many as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people. However, other opposition groups exist inside and outside the country that cannot be ignored. The Syrian National Council has rejected any political dialogue with the Government under the current conditions. Many of the anti-Government armed groups, comprising army defectors and an increasing number of armed civilians, identify themselves as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — whose leadership resides abroad — but operate relatively independently on the ground. Most FSA groups initially adopted a defensive posture, but then turned to offensive operations against Government forces and facilities and against critical national infrastructure. During the reporting period, the situation became more complex and deadly with a series of bombings, some of which were indicative of the presence of a third actor.
With the upturn in violence, and at the request of the General Assembly, as contained in its resolution 66/253 of 16 February 2012, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and I jointly named former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan as Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to Syria on 23 February.
On 10 March 2012, Joint Special Envoy Annan presented the Syrian President with a six-point proposal, which called for a commitment to a political process and the cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties, with the Government to immediately end the use of heavy weapons in population centres and to begin a pull-back of military concentrations in and around those centres. The plan also includes a range of other steps to be taken by the Syrian Government to alleviate the crisis, including humanitarian access, access to and the release of detainees, access and freedom of movement for journalists, and freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
On 25 March, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic expressed its commitment to the six-point proposal, as confirmed by the Joint Special Envoy on 27 March. The Joint Special Envoy also sought similar commitments from the opposition. Despite intense levels of violence in late March and early April, for the first time in over one year, a cessation of violence was declared and went into effect across the country on 12 April. On the basis of the commitments of the parties and the reduction in hostilities by both sides, I proposed the establishment of UNSMIS in my letter to the President of the Security Council of 19 April (S/2012/238).
The arrival of an advance team on 16 April, followed by UNSMIS, took place during a marked reduction in violence across the country. However, by the third week of May a return to unrestrained hostilities was seen, to the extent that by 15 June UNSMIS had decided to temporarily suspend activities. The Government and the opposition were informed that, absent respect for the cessation of violence,
UNSMIS would not be able to resume normal operations.