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Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Syria: The Annan Peace Plan in 2012

Annan Peace Plan
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan (L) shakes hands with Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad following a meeting in Damascus on July 9, 2012. Annan arrived in Syria after admitting that his peace plan has so far failed to end nearly 16 months of carnage, as scores more die in the violence-wracked country. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

On 27 March 2012, following intensive negotiations with the government and its opponents, Kofi Annan announced that Syria had accepted a six-point peace plan, summarized by the BBC’s website:

  1. The Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
  2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians.
  3. All parties ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause.
  4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons.
  5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists.
  6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

The Friends of Syria group held a second gathering in Istanbul on 1 April 2012, at which it agreed on measures aimed at increasing support for the Syrian opposition and undermining the al-Assad regime, pledged support for Kofi Annan’s mission, and recognized the SNC as ‘a legitimate representative of all Syrians’ and ‘noted the [SNC] as the leading interlocutor of the opposition with the international community.’ The meeting did not endorse opposition calls for military aid to the anti-regime fighters in Syria.

As with the earlier Arab League plan, the Damascus government accepted the plan but did not adhere to it. Troops and heavy weaponry were to be withdrawn from towns and cities by 10 April 2012, and a ceasefire was to go into effect on 12 April. In the event, soldiers and heavy weaponry were not withdrawn by the agreed deadline. The 12 April ceasefire initially brought a marked lull in violence, but the situation deteriorated rapidly. Within days, battles were raging across the country. On 14 April 2012, the UN Security Council agreed to send unarmed ceasefire observers to Syria (Resolution 2042), and the following day an advance party arrived in Damascus. Their presence had no discernible impact on the violence.

On 7 May 2012, general elections were held based on the newly agreed Constitution. As skeptics had predicted, pro-regime candidates won a large majority of seats in the People’s Assembly.

After months of continuing violence, on 2 August, Kofi Annan announced he was stepping down as UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy. On 16 August, the United Nations Security Council decided to end the UN observer mission in Syria, keeping a small UN office.