Syrian Opposition Coalition – Syria
Department of Media and Communications
December 18, 2020
The latest briefing by the UN special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, to the UN Security Council lacked accuracy and frankness, especially with regard to the use of terms such as changing the term “transitional justice” to “reconciliatory justice.” He also did not specify or clarify the reasons for the continued gridlock, as if the failure to do so was a condition of neutrality! The mission of the UN envoy is to facilitate the political process in accordance with UN resolutions rather than covering up those who disrupt this process or seek to undermine it as is the case with the Assad regime.
UN Security Council resolution 2254 comprises four main provisions: the release of detainees, the Transitional Governing Body (TGB), the constitution, and elections. Since the formation of the Constitutional Committee 15 months ago, the UN envoy has largely avoided or has not been able to activate the rest of the components of UN Resolution 2254. Instead, he has most recently come up with the term “reconciliatory justice,” i.e., reconciliation with the mass murderer who killed over one million Syrians. It is as if the Assad regime would be rewarded for its disruption and procrastination by defending and overlooking its crimes.
The real justice in Syria now is the “transitional justice” that redresses millions of Syrians as required by international norms and conventions and as was stipulated in Security Council resolutions. True justice means holding to account whoever are committing crimes against the Syrian and ensuring reparation and compensation for victims of the murderous regime and its backers.
Mr. Pederson made important remarks with regard to the need to improve the Constitutional Committee’s work mechanisms and to follow a clear methodology in order to ensure uninterrupted progress towards achieving tangible results. While these remarks are to the point, the UN envoy needs to address the regime openly and make it clear that the regime is the party that is disrupting the work of the Committee and its mechanisms.
The UN envoy highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, the worsening economic crisis, and the issue of the IDPs and refugees. He also made important remarks on the issue of detainees, about which a serious action is yet to be taken. However, Mr. Pedersen did not name the party responsible for these crises and crimes, nor did he clearly state that disrupting the issue of the release of detainees is further evidence of the Assad regime’s lack of seriousness and its unwillingness to help resolve the conflict. Indeed, the regime insists on keeping the detainees as hostages to further torture them and prolong their suffering with the aim of terrorizing the Syrian people and using detainees as a bargaining chip.
The Syrian National Coalition (SOC) outrightly rejects the UN envoy’s departure from UN resolutions that defined the framework of the political process. It also rejects attempts to derail the political process in favor of criminals by proposing the so-called “reconciliatory justice.” The SOC stressed the need to take into account the extremely dire conditions the Syrian people are going through and the increasing crises they are suffering from due to the survival of this murderous regime in power. There must be real, concrete pressure from the major actors in the international community on the sponsors and operators of the Assad regime as essential to implementing UN resolutions; pushing the political process ahead; ensuring the release of detainees, the formation of a TGB, and finalizing a draft constitution so as to lay the groundwork for a democratic transition in Syria.