"The Elders will closely follow whether, and how, these promising words are put into action." Lesley-Anne Knight, CEO of The Elders, welcomes Saturday's diplomatic breakthrough on Syria at the UN Security Council.
“Chilling darkness”: those were the words used by one Ambassador at the UN Security Council this weekend to describe the abyss in which many Syrians find themselves.
But the chilling darkness may soon give way to the slightest glimmer of promise. At the very meeting where those words were uttered, the Security Council unanimously voted to adopt Resolution 2139, which pledges to ease the delivery of humanitarian relief to Syrians.
The Elders warmly welcome this news.
A glimmer of promise
To Syrians, this promise is long overdue. Until now the Security Council proved deeply gridlocked on ways to alleviate their suffering. Syrians were entitled to feel utterly forsaken by those with the power to save them. The fact that the UN, earlier this year, even gave up trying to keep an official record of the dead – known to be well in excess of 100,000 – spoke volumes about the outside world’s ability to mobilise itself to face the tragedy inside Syria’s borders.
It was nearly a year ago that Desmond Tutu – neither the first, certainly not the last to do so – decried the absence of a concerted humanitarian commitment to helping Syrians. “Water tanks are riddled with bullet holes, neighbourhoods are starved, hospitals are deliberately shelled”, he rued. How long, he asked, “before the ambulances are allowed to enter?”
This is why the adoption of the resolution by all 15 members, during a rare Saturday meeting, is such a promising step in the right direction. It is only a tentative step: as the text itself points out, it is the implementation of the resolution that will be key to meeting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.
Can the political process follow?
The Elders will closely follow whether, and how, these promising words are put into action.
At the same time, they will continue to give their full support to the work of their fellow Elder, Lakhdar Brahimi, as he strives to take forward the Geneva process in which all Syrian and international actors should cooperate to achieve peace and a constructive political transition. This political progress must go hand in hand with implementation of Resolution 2139 in order to achieve the positive outcome that the Syrian people so desperately need and deserve.
While this process continues, we can be thankful this week for some rare good news from the UN Security Council, particularly Russia’s role in ensuring its unity on this crucial vote.
We add our voices to all those around the world, from all walks of life, who have felt so helpless over the turn of events in Syria but now may feel there is a chance for hope.