Helen Clark: Speech at the Supporting Syria and the Region follow up eventSep 21, 2016
I would like to thank Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Kingdom for co-hosting this important event with the UN.
Sadly, this event takes place shortly after the UN has halted all aid convoys in Syria following the deadly attack on Monday. Our thoughts are with the families of the twelve humanitarian workers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent who tragically lost their lives.
In February this year, as the Syrian crisis entered its sixth year, the UN Secretary General committed the UN to co-ordinate “stabilization, post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery efforts” in Syria, and to “begin planning work promptly” to ensure that the UN is ready to provide robust support the moment a political agreement is reached.
The Secretary General established an inter-agency process, and asked UNDP and the Department of Political Affairs, as the co-chairs of the UN’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Syria, to lead a planning working group on Syria. Since then, the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria and the UN Country Team in Syria have been actively engaged in the exercise, as have a number of Member States, the World Bank, and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
To ensure that the UN is well prepared to deliver future support, the working group is planning for different contingencies, and developing priority actions which could be implemented immediately following an agreement. The planning team is expected to conclude its work by the end of October. This work will serve as the basis for a wider co-ordinated effort by the international community.
We are fully aware that even when an agreement is reached, trust among the parties will be fragile, and the country is still likely to be highly insecure. Yet it is crucial for the success of the peace agreement that Syrians immediately begin to feel the dividends of the agreement. The hopes and expectations of Syrians will be high.
The UN has already reached millions of Syrians in need with humanitarian aid and emergency development support. Following a peace agreement, we must continue to respond to the acute needs for relief, and to support the restoration of livelihoods and social services, the rehabilitation of essential infrastructure, and a process of reconciliation to strengthen the social and economic fabric which must support the country through a fragile transition. Fostering early recovery through a close partnership between humanitarian action and resilience-building will be critical. Major protection issues will need to be adequately addressed and funded, and civil documentation and land and other property issues need to be addressed. These are critical issues which will affect refugee returns and the holding of elections.
A transitional governance arrangement will need international support. As per Security Council Resolution 2254, we must be prepared to support a Syrian-led process for drafting a new constitution, strengthening the rule of law, and supervising free and fair elections.
A cornerstone of the planning will be to ensure the territorial integrity and unity of the country.
On behalf of the UN’s interagency task force on Syria, I thank Member States for their support throughout this planning process.
Recognising the enormity of the post agreement challenges, we look forward to strengthening our partnerships with all stakeholders.