Photo By: REUTERS/ Michael Dalder
This month, as Syrians mark 6 years since the start of the revolution, our people will embark on a fifth round of peace negotiations in Geneva. They will do so amid a growing sense of hopelessness and disappointment among Syrians on the ground. Geneva IV failed to deliver tangible progress to improve the lives of our people. Unless the parties face consequences for the continued killing of civilians, Geneva V will suffer the same fate.
Close to 300 civilians were killed during the previous round of Geneva talks. In eastern Damascus and Homs, regime airstrikes intensified. In Al Waer, regime sieges tightened, with 16,000 Syrians leaving the area for Jarablus this past week, adding to the demographic change that occurred in Homs. By the end of peace talks, violence, displacement and destruction had returned to pre-ceasefire levels. If the next round of peace talks is to stand any chance of success, the violence—and the impunity which breeds it must stop.
As members of Syrian civil society, we have done our part to make Geneva a success. Both privately and publicly, we pressed the parties to engage constructively in the Geneva process – demanding serious negotiations. We engaged directly with the Office of the UN Special Envoy to develop new thinking on the ‘baskets’: governance, constitution, elections and confidence building measures. We developed credible ideas for Syria’s future, and articulated Syrians’ demands in diplomatic engagements with the international community. As Syrian civil society, we have done our share to help achieve a political solution. Now, we are appealing to you to bring leverage to the table – otherwise your presence does nothing to increase the chances of success. We know what we want for our future and how we should get there. We need what we can’t deliver and what has always been missing: pressure on and leverage over the regime and its allies to enforce Security Council resolutions, which are clear and explicit.