Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Friends Of Syria" - Draft Statement

Proposed Draft Chairman’s Conclusions to issue after Friends of Syria meeting, 24 February - Tunisia

1. The first meeting of the Group of Friends of Syria (“the Group”), was held in Tunis on 24 February 2012, and was co-chaired by Qatar and Tunisia, with the participation of [60] countries and representatives from the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the European Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States to discuss the worsening situation in Syria.
2. The Friends’ Group reaffirmed its firm commitment to the sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity of Syria. It expressed strong condemnation of the Syrian regime’s ongoing, widespread, and systematic human rights violations, including: the indiscriminate use of force against civilians; the killing and persecution of peaceful protestors and journalists; and sexual violence and ill-treatment of thousands of detainees, including children. The Syrian authorities’ brutal actions over the past eleven months have led to the death of thousands of innocent civilians, caused widespread destruction, forced tens of thousands of Syrians to flee their homes, and created widespread suffering among the Syrian people. Its use of heavy artillery and tanks to attack residential areas of cities and towns is particularly reprehensible. This violence, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, may amount to crimes against humanity.
3. The Friends’ Group affirmed its goal of a peaceful non-military solution to this crisis that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people for dignity, freedom, peace, reform, democracy, prosperity and stability. The Friends’ Group recognized the genuine concerns of religious and ethnic minorities (Alawi, Christian, Druze, Kurdish, Turkmen, and others) in Syria.

Support for the League of Arab States
4. The Friends’ Group commended the League of Arab States for their leadership on this issue and welcomed the League’s actions and proposals to achieve a peaceful resolution of
the crisis. It underlined the need for an immediate end to all violence and for the full implementation of the decisions and resolutions of the League of Arab States on the situation in Syria, notably resolutions 7444 of 22 January 2012 and 7446 of 12 February 2012, that, inter alia, call for the Syrian government to:
cease all violence and protect its population; − release all persons arbitrarily detained due to the recent incidents; − withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks; − guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations; and − allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States’ institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place.
The Friends’ Group encouraged the League of Arab States to resume its monitoring mission in Syria and expressed its readiness to assist the League in securing a greater number of monitors and UN-supported training and technical assistance.

Political Transition
5. The Friends’ Group called for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism and aimed at addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria's people. The Friends’ Group noted that the Syrian government's effort to impose unilaterally a set of political steps labeled as reforms would not resolve the crisis.
6. In this regard, the Friends’ Group set out its full support for the League of Arab States’ initiative to facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system in which citizens enjoy equal rights regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities, beliefs or gender, including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition aimed at:
formation of a national unity government; − delegation by the President of Syria of his full authority to his Deputy to cooperate fully with the national unity government in order to empower it to perform its duties in the transitional period; and − transparent and free elections under Arab and international supervision.
7. [The Friends’ Group welcomed the appointment of xx as Special Envoy for Syria]

Accountability for Regime Actions
8. The Friends’ Group expressed disappointment that the United Nations Security Council had thus far been blocked from responding to the League of Arab States’ repeated appeals for support and for its plan to end the violence in Syria. The Friends’ Group calls on the Security Council to speak out against the Syrian government’s gross human rights violations and to work with the League of Arab States and other interested parties to take effective action to bring about an end to the violence against civilians and to pursue accountability for those responsible for perpetrating crimes against the Syrian people.
9. The Friends’ Group welcomed the adoption by the UN General Assembly on 16 February of resolution 66/253 which strongly condemned the repression in Syria and demanded that the Syrian government implement the Plan of Action of the Arab League of 2 November, and its decisions of 22 January and 12 February without delay.
10. The Friends’ Group set out its determination to continue to take relevant political, diplomatic and economic measures to press the Syrian regime to stop all acts of violence and to prevent the spread of violence to neighbouring states. In this regard, participants committed to take steps to apply and enforce restrictions and sanctions on the regime and its supporters as a clear message to the Syrian regime that it cannot attack civilians with impunity. These might include:
Travel bans on members of the regime; − Freezing their assets; − Ceasing the purchase of Syrian crude oil and petroleum products; − Ceasing infrastructure investment in, and financial services relating to, Syria; and − The closure of Embassies in Damascus and Syrian Embassies in capitals.

Support for the Opposition
12. The Friends’ Group recognized that the Syrian opposition includes representatives from all sects and ethnicities, from inside and outside Syria. It commended the efforts of protestors and activists on the ground, who are the vanguard of Syrians seeking freedom and dignity. It also praised the work of the Syrian National Council (SNC) to form a broad and inclusive body that aims to assist Syrians inside Syria.
13. To this end, the Friends’ Group recognised the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change, and agreed to increase its engagement with and practical [non-military] support for all [peaceful] elements of the Syrian [political] opposition. The Friends’ Group encouraged the Syrian National Council to pursue its actions in a spirit of unity and to support the vision of an inclusive, prosperous and free Syria that protects its citizens and does not threaten its neighbours, and where all citizens enjoy equal rights.
14. The Friends’ Group called on the Arab League to convene a meeting of the Syrian National Council and a range of opposition groups and individuals, including those inside Syria, committed to a peaceful political transition, in order for them to agree on:
a representative coordination mechanism for working together before, during and after
a transition period; − a clear statement of shared principles for a transition in Syria, according to relevant convenants and resolutions of the United Nations regarding human, social and political rights, as well as a commitment to a civil, representative future government that safeguards individual rights and the rights of minorities.

Humanitarian Assistance
15. The Friends’ Group expressed increasing concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria, including the lack of access to basic food, medicine and fuel materials in some areas. It reiterated the need urgently to address humanitarian needs, and to facilitate effective delivery of assistance. The Friends’ Group called on the Syrian government to implement an immediate ceasefire and to allow free and unimpeded access by the UN [led by the Emergency Relief Coordinator] and humanitarian agencies to carry out a full assessment of needs in Homs and other areas. It demanded that humanitarian agencies be permitted to deliver vital relief goods and services to civilians affected by the violence.
[16. To this end, the Friends’ Group supported the creation of a United Nations-led Humanitarian Task Force to coordinate the international humanitarian response, including the establishment of appropriate funding mechanisms.]
Economic Recovery
17. The Friends’ Group also declared its firm commitment to contribute substantially to rebuilding Syria in the process of transition and to support the future economic recovery of the country. For this purpose, the establishment of a Task Force Economic Recovery will be envisaged for the next meeting of the Friends’ Group.
18. The Friends’ Group expressed their thanks and appreciation to Tunisia for hosting this meeting. The Group agreed to meet again within a month on a date to be determined in the near future.
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