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Annan's Remarks at the Meeting of Action Group on Syria, June 2012

Speaker: Kofi Annan
Published June 30, 2012

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan gave these remarks at the meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland on June 30, 2012.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I called this meeting in Geneva at this critical stage in the crisis to bring the international community and the countries with influence together – to take concrete action.

We came here to reach a serious agreement on how we could help Syria at this grim and brutal time. We have just issued a communiqué. It is long and detailed, but the messages are clear.

Everyone here is gravely alarmed at the situation in Syria. We strongly condemn the continued and escalating killing, destruction and human rights abuses.

Today the international community has taken its cooperation to a stronger level, by being clearer and more specific. They have laid out a path that we hope the Syrian people can embrace and work with. And they have given me their support in my difficult task as Joint Special Envoy.

We are determined to work urgently and intensively to bring about an end to the violence and human rights abuses and the launch of a Syrian-led political process leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future.

First, all parties must re-commit to a sustained cessation of armed violence and implementation of the six-point plan immediately and without waiting for the actions of others. The government and armed opposition groups must cooperate with UNSMIS, that is the UN monitors, on this.

The Government must provide access to and release detainees, allow journalists to enter and move freely, and respect the right to demonstrate peacefully. Full humanitarian access must be ensured.

Second, we have agreed on a set of 'Principles and Guide-lines on a Syrian-led transition' that any political settlement should deliver to the people of Syria.

We have offered a perspective for the future that can be shared by all in Syria – a genuinely democratic and pluralistic state, with free and fair elections, full respect for human rights and the rule of law, equal access to opportunities for all, and assurances that the rights of smaller communities will be respected.

This requires clear, irreversible steps in the transition according to a fixed time frame.

The key steps in any transition include the establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. The transitional governing body could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups, and should be formed on the basis of mutual consent.

It is for the Syrian people to determine the future of the country. All groups and segments of society must be enabled to participate in an inclusive National Dialogue process, whose key outcomes must be implemented. Women must be fully represented in all aspects.

On this basis, the constitutional order and legal system can be reviewed, and the result of constitutional drafting would be subject to popular approval, after which there must be free and fair multi-party elections.

A transition must be implemented in a climate of safety for all, stability and calm, including completion of withdrawals and the disarming, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups.

There must be continuity of governmental institutions and qualified staff. The public services must be preserved or restored. This includes the military forces and security services.

However, all governmental institutions, including the intelligence services, have to perform according to human rights and professional standards, and operate under a top leadership that inspires public confidence, under the control of the transitional governing body.

There must be a commitment to accountability and national reconciliation.

It is for the people of Syria to come to a political agreement, but time is running out. We need rapid steps to reach agreement.

The conflict must be resolved through peaceful dialogue and negotiation alone. Conditions conducive to a political settlement must now be put in place.

The bloodshed must end, and the parties must be prepared to put forward effective interlocutors to work with me towards a Syrian-led settlement.

The international community is ready to offer significant support for the implementation of an agreement reached by the parties.

The Action Group members will engage as appropriate, and apply joint and sustained pressure on, the parties in Syria to implement what we have discussed. And they are opposed to any further militarization of the conflict.

They will support me fully as I immediately engage the Government and opposition, and consult widely with Syrian society, as well as other international actors, to further develop the way forward. I will work very closely with them and keep the United Nations and the League of Arab States informed.

The Action Group has pledged action, and they are sending a message of determination and hope. But today's words must not become tomorrow's disappointments. The hard work starts now. We must work together to implement what has been agreed. We cannot do this alone. I hope all in Syria will embrace what has been laid out here and work with us to stop the killing and build a better future.

Thank you.

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