Kofi Annan's peace plan for Syria was probably the "last chance to avoid civil war" in the country, as the former United Nations Secretary General warned the international community in May 2012.
Annan’s plan for a ceasefire was a compromise: it called for a Syrian-led political dialogue aimed at democratic reform but without demanding the departure of President Bashar al-Assad, the precondition set by Russia, Syria’s chief ally.
Faced with an international diplomatic deadlock and a full-blown civil war on the ground, Annan resigned as UN-Arab League peace envoy on 2nd August 2012.
Kofi Annan’s Six-Point Peace Plan
- Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people
- UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians
- All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause
- Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons
- Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists
- Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully
Source: UN Security Council Presidential Statement, March 2012.
Read more on the profile of the UN Security Council.
How It Was Adopted: UN & Arab League
Kofi Annan was appointed a joint UN-Arab League Envoy for Syria in February 2012, shortly after the collapse of the Arab League peace mission due to recriminations between the Syrian government and Gulf Arab states, chiefly Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Annan submitted his peace plan to the UN in mid-March, embarking on a intensive diplomatic mission to secure the backing of all major powers. Prodded by Russia, Syrian government finally agreed to implement the plan and in April the BBC reported a shaky ceasefire taking hold.
Read more on why Saudi Arabia supports Syrian opposition.
How It Was Enforced: United Nations Special Mission in Syria (UNSMIS)
Annan’s peace plan stipulated a phased dispatch of a UN monitoring mission that was to monitor the ceasefire and report back to the UN. The number of observers in the UNSMIS reached several hundred, but their lack of any real leverage over both sides in the conflict was quickly revealed as the ceasefire crumbled, and the death toll began piling up again.
Problems: No Political Solution
The main problem with Annan’s plan was that it provided no mechanisms for political solution to the crisis. Ceasefire was meant to pave the way for political dialogue and some kind of transition toward a democratic system. This part was left to Syrians, but it was probably already too late in the conflict, as both sides dug in their heels and saw no room for compromise.
As anything that comes out of UN, every word in Annan’s plan was subject to interpretation:
- Syrian government: Assad repeatedly reiterated his commitment to the plan, but wouldn’t pull out troops from cities unless Western and some Arab governments pledged to stop supporting the armed opposition.
- Free Syrian Army: The rebels accused the government of continuing to fire on protesters and arrest opposition activists, and justified it to attack government troops.
Read more on the Free Syrian Army.
In early June 2012, Syrian rebels ended their commitment to the ceasefire, shortly after a defiant speech by Assad which effectively declared war on the opposition. After that, the ceasefire remained in name only, and by July the fighting reached the capital Damascus and Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub.Go to Current Situation in the Middle East / Syria