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The Annan peace plan

UN envoy Kofi Annan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussing the peace plan, April 2012

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. 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 to ensure 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 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 Troops and heavy weaponry were to be withdrawn from towns and cities by 10 April 2012 and a ceasefire was to go into effect on 12 April. In the event, soldiers and heavy weaponry were not withdrawn by the agreed deadline.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 on the basis of the newly agreed Constitution. As sceptics 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 in the country.

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