UN Security Council endorses cessation of hostilities pact in Syria

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The United Nations Security Council  endorsed the joint statement announced on Monday by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Ceasefire Taskforce, on the terms of a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria, and demanded that the agreement take effect at midnight Damascus time.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council demanded the “full and immediate” implementation of resolution 2254 (2015) to facilitate a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition in order to end the conflict in the country, stressing once again that the nation’s people “will decide the future of Syria.”

Resolution 2254, unanimously adopted in December, gave the UN an enhanced role in shepherding the opposing sides to talks for a political transition, endorsing a timetable for a ceasefire, a new constitution and elections.

Briefing the Council by video conference before the vote, Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, said the cessation of hostilities was the result of lengthy and detailed discussions and the outcome of intense negotiations at the highest level. Speaking via videoconference from Geneva, he added that it was a “major achievement.”

Much work for the implementation of the agreement lay ahead, he continued, stressing that Saturday would be a critical day and warning that there would be no shortage of attempts to undermine the process under way. The international community must work fast to address any incidents that may arise, while all parties must demonstrate restraint. Mr. de Mistura announced that, provided the cessation of hostilities held and humanitarian access was kept open, he intended to reconvene formal Syria peace talks in Geneva on Monday, 7 March.

In today’s text, the Council also demanded that all parties involved in the cessation of hostilities fulfil their commitments, and urged all Member States, especially ISSG members ¬– the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries, including the United States and Russia, who have been seeking a path forward for several months – to use their influence with the parties to ensure fulfilment of those commitments and support efforts “to create conditions for a durable and lasting ceasefire.”

The Council recognized the efforts on the part of the Russian Federation and the United States to reach an understanding on the terms of the cessation of hostilities, and acknowledged and welcomed that the forces of the Government of Syria and the Syrian armed opposition groups have accepted and committed to abide by the agreement’s terms.

The Council also reiterated its call to the parties to immediately allow humanitarian agencies “rapid, safe and unhindered access” throughout Syria by most direct routes, and to immediately comply with their obligations under international law.

Expressing support for the ISSG initiative to accelerate the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid, with the view towards “full, sustained and unimpeded” access throughout the country, the Council also reaffirmed its support for a Syrian-led political process facilitated by the UN. In particular, the Council requested that formal negotiations between representatives of the Syrian Government and the opposition, under the auspices of the UN, be resumed as soon as possible.

In the resolution, the Council also welcomed the cessation of hostilities as a “step towards a lasting ceasefire,” reaffirming the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process, and that both initiatives should move ahead “expeditiously” as expressed in resolution 2254.

Source: United Nations

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