The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an international road map for a Syria peace process.
The resolution gives a UN blessing to a plan negotiated previously in Vienna that calls for a ceasefire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition, and a roughly two-year timeline to create a unity government and hold elections.
UN Security Council Resolution on Syria (No. 2254)
1-Calls for ceasefire and formal talks on a political transition to start in early January
2-Groups seen as “terrorist”, including Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, are excluded
3-“Offensive and defensive actions” against such groups – a reference to air strikes by US-led coalition and Russia – to continue
4-UN chief Ban Ki-moon to report by 18 January on how to monitor ceasefire
5-“Credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” to be established within six months
6-“Free and fair elections” under UN supervision to be held within 18 months
7-Political transition should be Syrian-led
“This council is sending a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria and lay the groundwork for a government that the long-suffering people of that battered land can support,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told the 15-nation council after the vote.
The resolution also calls for the UN to present the council with options for monitoring a ceasefire within one month.
Talks between Syria’s government and opposition should begin in early January, the resolution said, though Kerry said mid-to-late January was more likely. It also endorsed the continued battle to defeat Islamic State militants who have seized large swaths of both Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
It was one of the strongest appeals for peace by the council, divided for years on the issue of Syria’s war, since Russia and China began vetoing a series of Western-drafted resolutions on the conflict in October 2011.
Agreement on a resolution came after a meeting of the so-called International Syria Support Group. Foreign ministers from 17 countries, including Lavrov, Kerry and other European and Middle Eastern ministers, as well as top diplomats from regional rivals Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, were in New York for the meetings.
The Syria road map, which also calls for a nationwide ceasefire that would not apply to Islamic State, Nusra Front and some other militant groups, was previously worked out in two rounds of ministerial talks in Vienna.