France seeks to toughen UN statement on Syria ceasefire


France has proposed revisions to a draft UN Security Council press statement on Syria, as UN/Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi seeks the body’s support for a cease-fire for the Eid Al Adha holiday on October 26.

In particular, France is seeking revisions to the text that would single out the Syrian regime for greater responsibility for the violence that has killed an estimated 30,000 people, over the armed opposition to Bashar al-Assad, according to a copy of the proposed revised draft provided to Al-Monitor Tuesday.

“The Council must stress that the responsabilty [sic] lies first on the Syrian authorities to stop the killings,” the memo from France’s UN diplomats to other UN Security Council members proposing their revisions states. “This has been a consistent principle of the UNSC since the start of the crisis. We thus retained the formulation of the [Secretary General’s] SG statement “in particular on the Government of the Syrian Arab republic as the stronger party.'”

Former UN Syria envoy Kofi Annan last week faulted great power divisions and western insistence on seeking a UN “Chapter 7” resolution for the breakdown of a fragile accord he hammered out in Geneva in June. Russia, which vields a veto in the body, has opposed a Chapter 7 resolution on Syria, complaining such a measure was used to authorize NATO-led military intervention against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

Meantime, some Syria scholars previously on the fence about deeper US entanglement in the conflict have shifted their positions, as spillover from the Syria conflict increasingly threatens to destabilize in particular Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

“The US government should tell Assad that he must launch serious negotiations for a transition government,” Syria scholar Joshua Landis wrote at his blog Monday. “If he does not, Western governments should supply opposition militias with ground to air missiles in sufficient numbers to bring down the Syrian air-force.”

The French mark-up of the draft UN Security Council press statement on the Syria ceasefire, identified as version 3, below.

Security Council Draft Press Statement on Ceasefire in Syria

The members of the Security Council welcomed the important and timely initiative of the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, for a ceasefire and a cessation of violence in all its forms during the period of Eid Al Adha, and echoed the joint appeal of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to all regional and international actors to support it.

The members of the Security Council called upon all parties, in particular on the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic as the stronger party, to respond positively to the initiative of the Joint Special Representative, and reiterated their 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 called 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.

The members of the Council agreed that an Eid Al Adha cease-fire could be a first step towards a sustainable cessation of armed violence, in conformity with Security Council resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2043) and underscored the need to launch an inclusive Syrian-led political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system, that realises the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for democracy, equality and justice, regardless of their affiliation, religion or beliefs.

(Photo: Turkish boys look through a shattered window after an anti-aircraft shell fired from Syria hit a health centre across the border in the Reyhanli district of Turkey’s Hatay province October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Osman Orsal.)

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