THE PAPER | Analysis of The Geneva Communiqué & 6 Point Peace Plan for Syria

THE PAPER | Analysis of The Geneva Communiqué & 6 Point Peace Plan for Syria

By Phillip Paul Dennis BA (Hons) LCGI

Abstract

The question of resolving conflict within the Syrian Arab Republic has recently been diverted toward overcoming and defeating the self styled Islamic State: or Daesh. The emergence of Daesh has indeed added extreme complications to any plans or processes aimed at seeking a resolution between the Syrian government and rebel opposition who engage in civil war.   When considering Daesh as an existing element within Syria and Iraq, one could  ask if  the conflict would end  when the Islamic State is defeated ? The answer is of course no.  Removing the Islamic State would still leave a situation whereby fractious rebel groups, and protesting Arab Spring,  oppose the ruling party: a party which led by the Bashar Al Assad regime has vowed to crush any rebel uprising.  It is therefore argued that resolution will come, eventually, in the form of political change which can only be derived from the political will of the Syrian people.  The main principles for this were set out in Geneva in 2012 following a collapsed Ceasefire agreement between all concerned.  This report considers agreements made, outlines the main principles of agreement and includes the original text of both the 6 point peace plan and the agreement known as the Geneva Communiqué.  It emphasises why, after five years of bitter conflict the Geneva Communiqué remains the main framework for driving a peaceful resolution to the problem. A situation of which will require time and patient negotiation.

THE PAPER | Analysis of The Geneva Communiqué & 6 Point Peace Plan for Syria


1. Introduction

In 2012 reported escalation of violent acts in Syria prompted the need for urgent action to be taken for the benefit and wellbeing of the Syrian population, the stability of the Syrian Arab Republic and the international community in the wider context.  Proposals for agreement of terms emerged with a 6 point peace plan and offered  an appropriate course of action with the sole purpose of a peaceful resolution to end the violence and enter into a negotiation of terms for all concerned: under a supervised cease-fire. The plan, set out by the United Nations joint envoy (Kofi-Annan),  offered a framework for progress., which was initially accepted but soon became the subject of dispute. With allegations that all sides had breached the terms of ceasefire, the agreement broke down within a matter of weeks.  As debate intensified, the situation in Syria moved toward the Geneva conferences, whereby all concerned attempted to debate and format a structured direction to end the conflict.  These conferences, it could be argued, reached an end point document at the third Geneva convention in June 2012 with the “final communiqué.  This document set out the principle stages of implementation for change within  Syria.  Today the communiqué remains the main platform for developing stability and peace through driving the inclusive political will of the those within the Syrian Arab Republic. It is an agreement which is recognised by many, including the current UN Special Envoy (Staffan Domingo de Mistura), as the only withstanding non-discrimitory and non-sectarian rationale to include the contribution of the Syrian populas, enhance structural political change, and invoke a peaceful resolution to a fractious and complex situation.    

Six-Point Proposal of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States

2.1 Agreement to the Peace Plan.

On 23 February 2012, a joint UN–Arab League special envoy was appointed in Syria in an effort to end an increasingly violent uprising that began in March 2011. The appointment, awarded to Koffi Annan, produced the 6 point peace plan which was submitted to the United Nations on 16 March 2012. Efforts to secure support from the Russian Federation for a ceasefire were then made in a meeting in Moscow on March 24th. By March 27th it was announced that the Syrian Government had agreed to accept the peaceful proposal and attempt to implement it. To this end, the envoy sought assurances from the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, and informed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that the Syrian government would withdraw and cease-fire by 10th April 2012. Subsequently, this could allow the U.N. monitoring mission of some 200 to 250 observers to monitor compliance of the agreement. The Syrian Government did indeed at this point declare a ceasefire date of April 12th 2012.

2.2 Breaches to the 6 point peace-plan

Despite the assurances given by the President of the Syrian Arab Republic. The peace plan did, however, remain contentious. Indeed, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations told the UN on April 5th that the Syrian Government would not abide to the terms of the agreement until all outside countries had agreed in writing to stop assisting the rebel opposition.  Moreover, it was reported that the withdrawal of troops from urban areas did not include government police, and a loophole in clause 2 of the peace plan allowed a government police regime to remain and/or replace military troops within days of agreement.    The ceasefire was implemented, but only in part, on the ground, causing sporadic clashes across Syria beyond April 14th.  By early May 2012 the UN Peacekeeping Under-Secretary-General  reported that both sides had violated the terms of the 12th April ceasefire agreement.

Continued fighting came to a head on 25th May 2012 in the town of Taldou in the Houla region. Pro government Shahiba militia and Syrian troops massacred 108 residents and critically injured more than 300. The subsequent outrage led to protests amongst Syrians, and resulted in the main rebel opposition (The Free Syrian Army; FSA) delivering an ultimatum to Bashar Al Assad.  The FSA stated they would not honour the peace agreement as civilians had been killed during the war. The FSA announced that it was resuming operations, and the response from Bashar Al Assad comprised a statement of vowing to crush any anti-regime uprising. This led to the collapse of the peace plan and by the end of May 2012 the FSA declared the agreement dead.  In August 2012 Koffi Annan had concluded that both sides of the conflict were guilty of  “ intransigence” and resigned his position as envoy.

However, the denial of both sides to adhere to ceasefire through the 6 point plan did not alteatther render it redundant, as the plan in its entirety offered a platform toward a solution, and a foundation for talks at the Geneva conventions on Syria. 
  
2.3 Text of the 6 point plan

As annexed to Security Council resolution 2042 (2012) of 14 April

(1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy; 

(2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilize the country; 

To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres; 

As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism. 

Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism; 

(3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level; 

(4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons; 

(5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them; 

(6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.

2.4 Analysis of the six point peace plan

When considering the terms of the 6 point plan it is also important to consider the elements of State and political will.  The Syrian constitution, for example, has been pivotal, in the development of State and governance.  The political will of the people is also another key factor in resolving the problem.  The Syrian constitution was indeed altered in 1973.  This was born from the wake of the Islamic uprising during the 1970’s and Syrian state government today would expect to uphold relating to its’ position as Arab State – a paradox in the context of governance, as the leadership of Bashar al Assad has been protested by the Arab Spring, yet the Muslim Brotherhood had failed to materialize as a coherent form of effective government. In such circumstances it could be argued that only the political will of the people can move toward a constitutional change.  

One of the most notable, reasons given for the breakdown of the Syrian 6 point peace plan was the argument of “ external influences as a driving force behind both sides of the civil way.  The Syrian government clearly have the support of the Russian federation on the issue of external influence, and in supporting Bashar al Assad, has since taken preference to veto any form of action against the Syrian leadership. In 2013, for example, the need to take action on the tactics employed in Syria came to a critical point when chemical weapons were deemed to be used and the Syrian government was identified as the aggressor. Reports of chemical weapons use is a violation of human rights coupled with further violations for which session 22 (2013) UNHR had previously condemned.[1] Intervention would now be required by either member-states of the UN under Chapter 7, or by the UN as an entity to promote the wellbeing of a civilian population which is unable to defend itself. And, the population as a whole which is being harmed or displaced as non-military civilians. Concern was also expressed in the report from the 6893rd meeting of the United Nations Security Council to note that efforts in the region are being deliberately hampered: events which were documented in UNSC resolution 2084.  Even in these circumstances the leader of the Russian Federation refused to allow intervention from the international community as a whole, indeed at the United Nations, chose to again veto. The argument, It was suggested, is Syria consists as a Civil War and outside intervention could not be expected.  

These events have now led to a situation whereby the fate of Syrian governance lay in the hands of the consent of the Syrian people, for whom  millions have chosen to flee into neighboring countries for their own safety.  With no ceasefire  in place and settlement of leadership at the hands of political will, the concept of developing a framework for future stability and governance  both the 6 point plan and the Geneva communiqué  have become time-consuming formats for conflict resolution.      
      
When taking all the factors into consideration it is clear that neither side are willing to give ground on a ceasefire, and the driving forces behind each side in the conflict have little intention to change their stance relating to the Syrian civil war.  There are, subsequently a number of  key contradictions and/or points which need to be highlighted before considering the Geneva communiqué as a viable framework for stability.

2.4.1  Arab/Islamic context for cease-fire plan.

a) The single most important factor is the issue of leadership as stated in the Syrian constitution.  This states that the leader must be Islamic.   Thus, the Syrian government is unlikely to accept a peace-plan which gives direction or leadership to a non-Islamic envoy.

Any coalition for supervision/ or peace council would need to have an Islamic chairperson.

b) Previous conflicts, in a contextual sense, would give rise to difficulties reaching agreements from outside influence of neighbouring countries; Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, but not to the extent of impossibility.   Syria would be more likely to accept an Envoy appointed by the Arab League to oversee any negotiations as they appear dedicated to the laws of Islam: yet promote freedoms of culture and democratic Islamic stand-points.

c) Outside influence, as determined to be the Western World are only objected to in the Syrian Regime as those who wish to perpetrate a break in the in Syrian view of Islamic law, their economic and social view does seem to contradict their current political stance at International level.

d)  Freedom of movement for journalists is already widely accepted by the Syrian government as it is part of the 1973 bill of constitution, but the massive civil demonstrations in Damascus in previous anti- government campaigns, particularly those arising from the Brotherhood  has led to the state “imposing” without official restriction. Mr. Anan addressed this in the 6-point peace plan, but did not include the words” for the best interest of the Syrian People.”

e) The state has been identified as the aggressor, to which end has breached the humanitarian rights of its people, breached the rights of the 1925 agreement on chemical warfare attacks, and breached the resolution in UNHR session 22 : 2013 to protect and/or not direct violence at UN personnel/inspectors.However, the aggressing party within this civil state was and has control of weaponry, and faces opposition from unpredictable groups of militia, as well as combining their effort in a stabilised armed unit which could also comprise of unpredictable personnel.Thus, removal of the regime and an interim government would only be viable if it fitted the constitution of an Islamic/Arab state. Any other scenario could cause further destruction and further fatalities.A peace-plan would need to take this into consideration.

f)  A suggested cease-fire would need to be overseen by a coalition force made up of Arab based UN representatives and Arab league members.   A peace council which helps Syria integrate within the Arab state and yet adhere to international law, could possibly be welcomed by the Syrian regime and the opposition, as both sides seem constituted to the Islamic community and the freedom of its people within that as part of an international community overall.

g) The introduction of Aid workers and aid distribution to flow freely within Syria (without attack or aggression) is a must in the formulation or amendment to any plan.  Syria is an existing beneficiary of the United Nations Development programme (UNDP), the facts of this are previously published in the UNDP Fast Facts Document regarding UNDP response to the Crises “Supporting Humanitarian Livelihoods and Community Resilience in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan”.  The safe keeping of all concerned in this project is of paramount importance.

h) The Human Rights Council Independent report dated 18 July 2013, clearly lays out a cause for concern as reaching “New levels of brutality”.[2] These are also highlighted in Annex of the report (annex 1 correspondence with the Syrian Arab Republic from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights). (Ref;Human rights Council, 23rd session agenda item 4)

i)  The notion that military action should always be the last option. If such action were to be required it should only be aimed at a strike on military and/or armoury sites within the boundaries of the Syrian nation. It should also only be used as a necessary function to disable future stockpiling of any weapons which may cause serious harm or fatality to the civilians of Syria and the civilians of other nations. [3]

3The Geneva Convention

In June 2015 the special envoy to Syria (Stefan de Mistura) suggested the overall plan has moved away from the national peace-framework to discussions within the Syrian Arab Republic to attain an inclusion persuasion to accept political reform. This places a strong emphasis on placing the results of the Geneva conventions in 2012 as the direction take, and has remained adornment that the Geneva Communiqué is the existing road map to end the conflict.

The Geneva Conventions are a set of treaties regarding humanitarian issues of civilians and combatants in wartime. There are four Geneva Conventions, last revised in 1949, and three additional Protocols - two from 1977, and one from 2005. (Council for Foreiegn affairs )  In June 2012, the concern over issues occurring within Syria was such that the international community called for the Geneva convention to be convened in an attempt to develop a protocol where the structure of governance is the key.   ( All plans exclude ISIS and extremist groups from the inclusion of a consented Syrian agreement).   Even though there was strong opposition from certain fractions within the conflict, the convention did convene for  three conferences and the subsequent convenings led to a definitive final communiqué on 30th June 2012. 

3.1 Opposition to the Geneva Convention

Given the call for a political reform was in the first instance non-discriminatory and non-exclusive in the executive power, it was almost ineviatable that objectors woud emerge to the Geneva framework.  The head of the Supreme Military Council of the Western-backed rebel Free Syrian Army said that forces aligned to him would not go to Geneva because it had not been made clear that the talks would result in President Assad stepping down. Other groups also objected and announced they too would not attend any conference. This was particularly the case with the National Co- ordination Committee (NCC),  an officially tolerated internal opposition alliance. Its leader, Hassan Abdul Azim, said he had refused to participate as part of a single opposition delegation led by the National Coalition without lengthy preparations.   Objection has been such that the call to convene and implement any agreement were rejected by the Syrian Kurdish leadership,  a group who comprise just over 10% of the population. They rejected the calls to attend any further  conference as part of a united opposition group (NCC)  and expressed a desire to send their own representatives and not be part of the National Coalition delegation. In essence, each fraction had their own agenda for terms to attend. Arguably, the biggest condemnation came from the Islamic Front, a powerful alliance of Islamist rebel groups, who warned it will consider participation in Geneva 2 as "treason".    

3.2  Geneva Conference 1 – Syria

Having agreed to convene, the first Geneva conference outlined political solution and called for the establishment of a transitional governing body that would “exercise full executive powers.” It stated that the solution lay within political reform and the executive powers could include members of the present government and the opposition, other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.
3.3  Geneva Conference 2 – Syria

At the second Geneva conference  doubt was expressed that any significant traction will be made quickly on the political front and only small confidence-building measures such as prisoner exchanges, localized cease-fires or improved humanitarian access, will could be achieved.  A scenario which later proved be true, when an agreement formulated to ceasefire was observed in Aleppo whereby fighting ceased for a short period to allow the Syrian Arab Red Cresent to enter and distribute aid to helpless civilians. Further to this, at a later point in time a set of localised ceasefires were briefly adhered in the Idlib region (2015).  However brief  the ceasefires, the significance does shine a glimmer of hope on the process as a workable framework for future reference, and championed a small victory in the humanitarian context.    

3.4 Geneva Conference 3 – Syria

The third Geneva conference, placed strong emphasis on stability. The grave concerns expressed by all suggested the need for working parties to enter Syria and engage immediate talks with the government and rebel groups calling for the implementation of transitional change within the republic.  The Final communiqué set out 12 points to achieve coherent dialogue and requested the appointing of a government innocular to work with the envoy in order to implement the 6 point peace plan and the communiqué, whilst at the same time remaining integrated to informing both the United Nations and the Arab League to the progressing situation.    
  
3.5 Text of The Final Communique:

   Action Group for Syria
Final Communiqué  30.06.2012

1.  On 30 June 2012, the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Turkey, Iraq (Chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States), Kuwait (Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States) and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee on Syria of the League of Arab States), and the European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy met at the United Nations Office at Geneva as the Action Group for Syria, chaired by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria. 

2. Action Group members came together out of grave alarm at the situation in Syria. They strongly condemn the continued and escalating killing, destruction and human rights abuses. They are deeply concerned at the failure to protect civilians, the intensification of the violence, the potential for even deeper conflict in the country, and the regional dimensions of the problem. The unacceptable nature and magnitude of the crisis demands a common position and joint international action. 

3. Action Group members are committed to the sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity of Syria. They 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. 

4. To secure these common objectives, the Action Group members (i) identified steps and measures by the parties to secure full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms; (ii) agreed on guidelines and principles for a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people; and (iii) agreed on actions they would take to implement the above in support of the Joint Special Envoy’s efforts to facilitate a Syrian-led political process. They are convinced that this can encourage and support progress on the ground and will help to facilitate and support a Syrian-led transition. 
Identified steps and measures by the parties to secure full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms 

5. The parties must fully implement the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043. To this end: 

5.1  All parties must re-commit to a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms 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 with a view to furthering the implementation of the above in accordance with its mandate. 

5..2 A cessation of armed violence must be sustained with immediate, credible and visible actions by the Government of Syria to implement the other items of the six-point plan including: 

Intensification of the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities; provision without delay through appropriate channels of a list of all places in which such persons are being detained; the immediate organization of access to such locations; and the provision through appropriate channels of prompt responses to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons; o Ensuring freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them; o Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.  

In all circumstances, all parties must show full respect for UNSMIS’ safety and security and fully cooperate with and facilitate the Mission in all respects. 

In all circumstances, the Government must allow immediate and full humanitarian access to humanitarian organizations to all areas affected by the fighting. The Government and all parties must enable the evacuation of the wounded, and all civilians who wish to leave to do so. All parties must fully adhere to their obligations under international law, including in relation to the protection of civilians.  

Agreed Principles and Guide-lines for a Syrian-led transition 

6.   Action Group members agreed on the following ‘Principles and Guide-lines on a Syrian-led transition’: 

Any political settlement must deliver to the people of Syria a transition that: • Offers a perspective for the future that can be shared by all in Syria; • Establishes clear steps according to a firm time-table towards the realization of that perspective; • Can be implemented in a climate of safety for all, stability and calm; • Is reached rapidly without further bloodshed and violence and is credible.    
  
6.I. Perspective for the Future The aspirations of the people of Syria have been clearly expressed by the wide range of Syrians consulted. There is an overwhelming wish for a state that: • Is genuinely democratic and pluralistic, giving space to established and newly emerging political actors to compete fairly and equally in elections. This also means that the commitment to multi-party democracy must be a lasting one, going beyond an initial round of elections. • Complies with international standards on human rights, the independence of the judiciary, accountability of those in government and the rule of law. It is not enough just to enunciate such a commitment. There must be mechanisms available to the people to ensure that these commitments are kept by those in authority. • Offers equal opportunities and chances for all. There is no room for sectarianism or discrimination on ethnic, religious, linguistic or any other grounds. Numerically smaller communities must be assured that their rights will be respected. 

6.2. Clear Steps in the Transition The conflict in Syria will only end when all sides are assured that there is a peaceful way towards a common future for all in Syria. It is therefore essential that any settlement provides for clear and 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. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall 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 in Syria must be enabled to participate in a National Dialogue process. That process must not only be inclusive, it must also be meaningful—that is to say, its key outcomes must be implemented. • On this basis, there can be a review of the constitutional order and the legal system. The result of constitutional drafting would be subject to popular approval. • Once the new constitutional order is established, it is necessary to prepare for and conduct free and fair multi-party elections for the new institutions and offices that have been established. • Women must be fully represented in all aspects of the transition.   
  
6.3.  Safety, stability and calm Any transition involves change. However, it is essential to ensure that the transition can be implemented in a way that assures the safety of all in an atmosphere of stability and calm. This requires: • Consolidation of full calm and stability. All parties must cooperate with the transitional governing body in ensuring the permanent cessation of violence. This includes completion of withdrawals and addressing the issue of the disarming, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups. • Effective steps to ensure that vulnerable groups are protected and immediate action is taken to address humanitarian issues in areas of need. It is also necessary to ensure that the release of the detained is completed rapidly. • 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. • Commitment to Accountability and National Reconciliation. Accountability for acts committed during the present conflict must be addressed. There also needs to be a comprehensive package for transitional justice, including compensation or rehabilitation for victims of the present conflict, steps towards national reconciliation and forgiveness. 

6.4.  Rapid steps to come to a Credible Political Agreement It is for the people of Syria to come to a political agreement, but time is running out. It is clear that: • The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected. • The conflict must be resolved through peaceful dialogue and negotiation alone. Conditions conducive to a political settlement must now be put in place. • There must be an end to bloodshed. All parties must re-commit themselves credibly to the six-point plan. This must include a cessation of armed violence in all its forms and immediate, credible and visible actions to implement items 2-6 of the six-point plan. • All parties must now engage genuinely with the Joint Special Envoy. The parties must be prepared to put forward effective interlocutors to work expeditiously towards a Syrian-led settlement that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The process must be fully inclusive to ensure that the views of all segments of Syrian society are heard in shaping the political settlement for the transition. The organized international community, including the members of the Action Group stands ready to offer significant support for the implementation of an agreement reached by the parties. This may include

6.5. an international assistance presence under a United Nations Mandate if requested. Significant funds will be available to support reconstruction and rehabilitation.  
Agreed actions Group members will take to implement the above in support of the Joint Special Envoy’s efforts to facilitate a Syrian-led political process   

7.  Action Group members will engage as appropriate, and apply joint and sustained pressure on, the parties in Syria to take the steps and measures outlined in paragraph 5.  

8. Action Group members are opposed to any further militarization of the conflict. 

9. Action Group members underscore to the Government of Syria the importance of the appointment of an effective empowered interlocutor, when requested by the Joint Special Envoy to do so, to work on the basis of the six-point plan and this communiqué. 

10. Action Group members urge the opposition to increase cohesion and be in a position to ensure effective representative interlocutors to work on the basis of the six- point plan and this communiqué. 

11. Action Group members will give full support to the Joint Special Envoy and his team as they immediately engage the Government and opposition, and consult widely with Syrian society, as well as other international actors, to further develop the way forward. 

12. Action Group members would welcome the Joint Special Envoy’s further convening of a meeting of the Action Group should he deem it necessary to review the concrete progress taken on all points agreed in this communiqué, and to determine what further and additional steps and actions are needed from the Action Group to address the crisis. The Joint Special Envoy will also keep the United Nations and the League of Arab States informed.

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3.6  Analysis of the Communique.

The Geneva Communique in 2012 (in it's final part) set out with urgent need for the working group to seek out peaceful solutions, but this made specific reference to the 6 point peace plan, and was documented at the 66th session of the security council on 6th July 2012 when agenda 34 was discussed by the General Assembly. 

 The focus is primarily to identify steps and measures by the parties to secure the full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012), including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms" 

Analysis of the final communiqué, however, would suggest that facilitating regional stability is equally as important as active dialogue  between the envoy and the warring factions. In an effort to set the stage the working groups are intended to provide Syrians with a platform to address in-depth themes that are certainly not new, but have lacked to date sustained intra-Syrian discussion.  In addition to this,    facilitators have been appointed by the Secretary-General for the thematic working groups to oversee 4 key themes in protecting regional stability within the Syrian Republic;  Jan Egeland for safety and protection; Nicolas Michel for political and legal issues; Volker Perthes for military, security and counter-terrorism; and Birgitta Holst Alani for continuity of public services, reconstruction and development.  This does of course add value to clause 6.3 enhancing the long term plan of stable conditions for the people of Syria: without which, it may take much longer to provoke transitional change to democratic structural governance. [4]  These facilitators form parallel progressions and the envoy has a framework  to coordinate any draught agenda in conjunction with all concerned.

With stability and calm being a main theme for providing the correct environment for political transition, it is difficult see a way forward with continued fighting in the towns and cities. The fighting has indeed hampered the process to create such an environment.  Niether side appear to have shown any commitment to ceasefire for this purpose.  In this case, the communique has without doubt been subject to problems of implementation.   Attempts to invoke localised and regional ceasefire agreements must there continue for the benefit of the facilitators and the working groups.  

3.6.1 Implementation

Arguably, implementation is, hitherto,  one of the greatest obstacles facing any peace process during times of conflict.   Diplomatic dialogue which transpires into agreement and policy often finds a stumbling block in it’s attempts to alter the opinions of those fighting on the ground. In Syria, the rebel groups have shown to have differences across their organisations, making the task even more difficult.  

Stefan de Mistura, pointed out how complex he felt the situation was when addressing Chatham House in London in March 2015. In his address he claimed " in his professional life of 43 years, having worked in one way or another on 21 conflicts, he has not come across a conflict that is more complex than that of Syria."

Issues of implementation were raised after the chemical weapon attacks of 2013, prompting calls for a further convening, as soon as possible of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communique. In May 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov  agreed to try to bring both sides to the table to end the bloodshed. Senator Kerry said the alternative was that Syria "heads closer to an abyss, if not over the abyss and into chaos".  Initial attempts to convene a further conference  failed. Their initiative, however, gained greater impetus after a chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August 2013. On 27 September, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2118, which demanded the destruction or removal of Syria's chemical stockpile by mid-2014. The United Nations also called for "all Syrian parties to engage seriously and constructively" and be committed to the "achievement of stability and reconciliation".  

In a statement issued by way of a press release from the United Nations on 16th  September 2013 – The United Nations concluded that the  vast majority of Syrians are killed in unlawful attacks using conventional weapons such as guns and mortars, with children making up a large proportion of the casualties, the United Nations appointed human rights probe today reported, calling for a halt to weapons being supplied to Government and the rebels.  To a large extent this is deemed a breach to implementation of the Communique. The statement continued to  the view  of the chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. He noted ( as he introduced the report to the Human Rights Council.)  

 “Arms transfers should not occur where there is a real risk that they will be used in the commission of crimes against humanity, violations of international humanitarian law, or war crimes. In Syria, this is a tragic reality” [5]

He also noted that failure to bring about a settlement to the conflict has led it to deepen in its intransigence and also to widen “expanding to new actors and to unimaginable crimes”. 

 3.6.2  Concerns    

The primary concern for resolution in Syria is the continued existence of violence. Stopping the fighting is fundamental to both the 6 point plan and the Final Communique. In addition to this there are two other areas of concern which have accentuated the complexities and hindered the process flow in a positive direction.

The two main concerns facing the Final Geneva Communique derive in the context of geopolitical change since it was announced in 2012. Implications from the both chemical weapons attacks and the uprising of the Islamic State have altered the dynamics of the process. The political transition process had already been acknowledged  as a long term solution: it has now become even longer and will require even greater efforts to create an environment for the political will to be a justified means of resolution. 

3.6.3 Implications resulting from Chemical Weapons   

The communiqué was documented in 2012 before the international outrage of the chemical weapon attacks in 2013. This, it could be suggested further demonised Bashar Al Assad in the eyes of the international community, and calls for international intervention ran high.  International intervention is of course a contradiction the Geneva communiqué as the agreement was to be settled internally without outside interference.  When considering the Communique’s principle for political transition as inclusive to all intra-Sryian bodies, including the government, feelings among all aspired back to the original claims made by the Arab Spring of brutality and dictatorship. Consequently, further calls emerged for the removal of Basher Al Assad as leader of the Syrian Republic. 

The situation of illegal tactics in warfare, and indeed the use of banned Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), has since given rise to increased distrust both in Syria and the international community in a wider context. This it could be argued poses a threat to the stability of the Middle East and Near East regions. However, the removal of the Al Assad regime is not an option under the terms of the agreement without a democratic political process.

3.6.4 Implications resulting from Rise of the Islamic State (Daesh)

The communiqué did not expect nor cater for the emergence of the so called Islamic State (Daesh) in Syria.  The rapid development of Daesh as force has profound implications to any notion of creating a stable and calm environment. On the contrary, it has created a culture of fear for the Syrian civilians, which transpired into an exodus of millions to the neighbouring States and beyond as refugees.  The remaining civilians now face the fear of attack from the Bashar Al Assad regime and acts of violent extremism from Daesh, who now occupy huge areas within the Syrian Arab Republic.  

The presence of the Islamic State.  does of  course invoke severe effects on the implementation of the Geneva communiqué and raise a number of pivotal issues;

1.The political will of the people has, in fact, been diluted due to the mass migration of the Syrian population. This weakens the credibility of any political reform intended to challenge the government regime.  The effects of continued fighting has reduced civilian populations by millions: in some towns the exodus has left them almost desolate with very few people remaining.  

2.The destruction of many Syrian towns and cities occupied by Daesh are no longer habitable to the residents,.creating stability for through the working groups and facilitators in not always possible, as Pro-government and Russian Federation forces have a remitt to attack Islamic State under international Counter -terrorism laws. The reconstruction and rehabilitation process of regions, as pointed out in (clause 6.5) will now take considerable time and be a daunting task. 

 3.The insurgence and force of Daesh within the geopolitical boundary, has allowed “ outside influence” to take place to remove them. This also includes support for the Assad regime from president Putin, who today, have military weapons and equipment in Syria.  The international community is committed, along with the United Nations, to respond to threats of international terror, and this it would appear is over-riding to the terms of the Geneva Communique: allowing different nations to take appropriate action in Syria.  This has without doubt changed the dynamics of the Civil war between the Government regime and the opposing rebel forces.

4.Clause 7 of the Communique is now more challenging and with the presence of Daesh not  withstanding.  This is due to the occupation of Daesh in land areas and claiming a pseudo State as Caphilate. – Clause 7 States;

 “Action Group members will engage as appropriate, and apply joint and sustained pressure on, the parties in Syria to take the steps and measures outlined in paragraph 5.”

This is contradictory whilst the Islamic State remain in place, them having been determined as a terrorist movement, conducting extremist violent acts. To this end they would be excluded from negotiations: even though the communiqué calls for an all inclusive intra-Syrian discussion. The intentions of the Islamic State, along with their affiliates go beyond declaring a Caphilate State within the Syrian border. Extrapolation of the Jihad from Syria to other nations, therefore, poses a threat to the geopolitical stability in a much wider sphere.

It is of course inevitable that all sides should want to defeat Daesh, as they form part of the Jihadist movement, adding further misery to the lives of civilian people. They pose a threat to the leadership and governance of the Syrian administration and an equal threat to the freedoms of the rebel opposition who attempt hold ground.   However, the veracity of the fighting is, to say the least, catastrophic to the infrastructure, and detrimental to the peace process.

This, it could be argued, has led to the situation whereby those opposing President Bashar Al Assad and President Putin of  the Russian Federation have pledged support for thier military action against the Islamic State in Syria.  These attacks, directed at strategic targets, aim to eliminate, Daesh cells, infrastructure, and supply routes.   The down side is the damage being caused to the notion of protecting the infrastructure  through the Geneva working groups and facilitators.  This adds another layer of complexity toward implementing all aspects of the communiqué. 

4. Conclusions

The 6 point peace plan and the Geneva communiqué have developed a solid platform for a peaceful resolution but has been subject to changes in the Syrian geopolitical landscape. This it could be argued has led to contradictions between the desire to invoke change and actual implementation of any change. When coupled with  persistent violations of it’s terms the notion of a peaceful resolution has been considerably prolonged. This does not mean the process has been lost, it simply means  the dynamics within Syria have changed since their introduction in 2012.

The objectives of the plan are; to end the violence, create stability and calm, create a safe environment, and allow the political will of the people within Syria to prompt a transition of change for  democratic political governance. Implementing such a plan has so far proved to be incredibly complex, made more so by the emergence of the Islamic State.  

Indeed, Islamic State have caused a severe problem and hampered progress. The removal of Islamic State will not result in resolution to the Syrian crisis. It will, however, mean the process can continue on course: albeit with extra challenges, and increased levels of need to the existing challenges facing facilitators.   

The conflict has raised any number of concerns, in terms of violations to international laws and treaties. It is clear that all sides have a desire to remove the so called Islamic State from the equation. However, it is also clear that when this happens both sides engaged in the civil war will face the same unresolved issues.

Subsequently,  the greater challenge for the communiqué is installing confidence back to the Syrian people giving them the knowledge that their country is a safe environment for them to rebuild their lives. Only then can thoughts begin of creating an environment of stability and calm.   This, according to the Geneva communiqué is the platform that will lead to the Syrian people having a freedom of thought, which in turn develops a political will for structural change in government.    

The tragedy is the inability of all those engaged in the fighting to recognise the  destruction of their own country through acts of extreme violence. Millions have fled in fear of their lives, and millions have fled in search of the stability and calm which the communiqué intends to help restore.

When praying for a peaceful solution to the problem, one can only conclude that the answer is in the desire of the Syrian people to enter into a new era of tolerance and enter into a new social contract with themselves and the government., Transition invoked through political will involves changing the thought process of those concerned. Firstly to acknowledge that change is required, and secondly, to have the strength to want to implement change. This process will take many years to develop, and will require a generation of repair and reconciliation. 

The Final Communiqué offers a platform for long term solutions which are inclusive to intra-Syrian differences and no-discriminatory. Despite it’s problems, it still remains  the existing principle platform for developing peace in the Syrian Arab Republic. 

About The Author: 

Phillip Paul Dennis (C-1610-2016) is an inspector, combining academic and office skills with practical work based skills which enabled him to attain First Article Inspector status. 
   
Formally educated at Portsmouth University, reading geography and geographical science, he graduated with honour, and successfully completed an independent research dissertation in geopolitics by conducting a geographical enquiry into the social contract theory and the development of nation-states.  In 2010 he achieved a UK-TEFL Cert at Cambridge UK, and was previously awarded distinction by the London City and Guilds Institute for computer aided engineering in 1992.

In 2013 he was part of the university alumni networking group, attending events & functions, and has represented geography & geographical science as a delegate for a reception evening at the House of Lords, in Westminster, London. 

Cite This Article:

Dennis, P.P. "THE PAPER | Analysis of The Geneva Communiqué & 6 Point Peace Plan for Syria" IndraStra Global 02, no. 02 (2016): 0026.
Suggested Readings:

Umar F. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria (Berkeley, Calif.: Mizan Press, 1983)

Hanna Batatu, "Syria's Muslim Brethren," MERIP Reports no. 110 (December 1982)

Raymond A. Hinnebusch, "The Islamic Movement in Syria," in Ali E. Hillal Dessouki, ed. Islamic Resurgence in the Arab World (New York: Praeger, 1982)

Line Khatib, Islamic Revivalism in Syria (London: Routledge, 2011)

Fred H. Lawson, ed. Demystifying Syria (London: Saqi Books, 2009)

Fred H. Lawson, "Explaining Shifts in Syria's Islamist Opposition," in Holger Albrecht, ed. Contentious Politics in the Middle East (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010)

Hans Guenter Lobmeyer, "Islamic Ideology and Secular Discourse: The Islamists of Syria," Orient 32(September 1991)

Thomas Mayer, "The Islamic Opposition in Syria, 1961-1982," Orient 24(December 1983)

Thomas Pierret, "The Role of the Mosque in the Syrian Revolution," Near East Quarterly no. 7 (February 2012)

Thomas Pierret and Selvik Kjetil, "Limits of 'Authoriarian Upgrading' in Syria: Welfare Privatization, Islamic Charities and the Rise of the Zayd Movement," International Journal of Middle East Studies 41(November 2009)

Thomas Pierret, Baas et Islam en Syrie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2011)

Johannes Reissner, Ideologie und Politik der Muslimbrueder Syriens (Freiburg: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1980)

Joshua Teitelbaum, "The Muslim Brotherhood and the 'Struggle for Syria', 1947-1958," Middle Eastern Studies 40(May 2004)

Joshua Teitelbaum, "The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, 1945-1958: Founding, Social Origins, Ideology," Middle East Journal 65(Spring 2011)

Itzchak Weismann, "Sai'd Hawwa: The Making of a Radical Muslim Thinker in Modern Syria," Middle Eastern Studies 29(October 1993)

Itzchak Weismann, "The Politics of Popular Religion: Sufis, Salafis and Muslim Brothers in Twentieth-Century Hama," International Journal of Middle East Studies 37(February 2005)

Itzchak Weismann, "Democratic Fundamentalism? The Practice and Discourse of the Muslim Brothers Movement in Syria," Muslim World 100(January 2010)

Eyal Zisser, "Syria, the Ba'th Regime and the Islamic Movement: Stepping on a New Path?" Muslim World 95(January 2005)

Useful links 

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/foreign-secretary-statement-to-geneva-conference-on-syria
http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/07/01/full-text-action-group-for-syria-final-communique/
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/friends-of-syria-core-group-final-communique
http://sputniknews.com/voiceofrussia/2013_05_08/The-Geneva-Communiqu-is-a-way-to-end-the- Syrian-crisis-John-Kerry/
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/friends-of-syria-core-group-final-communique 
http://damascus.usembassy.gov/statedept011314en1.html
http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Syria/FinalCommuniqueActionGroupforSyria.pdf
https://damascus.usembassy.gov/g2con.html
http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/01/20140131292128.html
http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/01/20140121291282.html
http://www.voltairenet.org/article188819.html
http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=146&Body=Syria&Body1


ENDNOTES:



[1]      This makes reference to the UN document Session 22; points page 2 to 11 (condemnation of violations) and   particular attention point 9.

[2]Ref; General Assembly, UN Human rights council, Report of the international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic: This report was based on findings between the dates15 Januarys to 15th May 2013. The summary states “A diplomatic surge is the only path to a political settlement.” However it also states; “War crimes have become a daily reality within the county.” (page 1 & 2 summary.

[3] Human Rights independent commission: Ref;Human rights Council, 23rd session agenda item 4, report  page 21 Section D, paragraphs 136 to 140.

[4] Reference is made to point 6.3 of the Final Comunique document 2012. ” Safety, stability and calm Any transition involves change. However, it is essential to ensure that the transition can be implemented in a way that assures the safety of all in an atmosphere of stability and calm. This requires: • Consolidation of full calm and stability.” 

[5]  Reference United Nation Press Release, United Nations News Centre, 16 September 2013

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