In February 2012, the General Assembly passed a resolution 66/253 requesting the UN to partner with the League of Arab States in support of a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict through a political transition. This led to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s appointment as the Joint Special Envoy. In April 2012, the Security Council adopted resolutions 2042 and 2043 endorsing Annan’s six-point plan and establishing the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) to monitor and support its implementation. In June 2012, Annan convened a meeting where key international and regional stakeholders adopted the Geneva Communiqué, a document which aimed to strengthen the implementation of the six-point plan and chart a political way forward. To this day, the Communique continues to provide the UN guidance on its mediation efforts toward a political transition. The Geneva Communique was endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 66/253-B in August 2012 and by the Security Council in resolution 2118 in September 2013. Amidst increasing violence across the entire country, the Security Council was unable to renew the UNSMIS mandate beyond August 2012.
In August 2012, following the departure of Kofi Annan, the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Arab League appointed Lakhdar Brahimi as their new Joint Special Representative. Brahimi convened negotiations in Geneva in January and February 2014, which aimed to provide space for the Syrian sides to agree on a full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. While the parties agreed on an agenda (transitional governing body; violence and terrorism; national institutions; reconciliation) they could not agree on the sequence for negotiating these issues. Brahimi suspended the negotiations and did not extend his assignment beyond May 2014.
The Secretary-General appointed Staffan de Mistura as Special Envoy for Syria in July 2014. Intense diplomatic engagement in 2015 between Russia and the US, and other key international stakeholders resulted in the establishment of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). Resolution 2254 (2015) reiterated the endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué and set the Special Envoy’s mandate. The resolution established a sequence and timeline for a political transition, including negotiations on the establishment of a credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance and a process and timeline for drafting a new constitution. It also called for free and fair elections, including the diaspora, pursuant to the new constitution and held under UN supervision.
From January 2016 to January 2018, Special Envoy de Mistura conducted a series of intra-Syrian talks. By late 2017 and throughout 2018, these efforts progressively focused on two key aspects of resolution 2254: the schedule and process for drafting a new constitution and precise requirements for UN-supervised elections.
In January 2019, the Secretary-General appointed Geir O. Pedersen as the fourth Special Envoy for Syria. Special Envoy Pedersen currently leads the UN’s efforts to advance the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué.