Staffan de Mistura, said that he had been discussing with the Secretary-General his desire to move on “for purely personal reasons”. “I have deeply appreciated his constant support and wise counsel on this matter,” he said.
But briefing the 15-member Council on an invitation from the Government of Syria to visit Damascus next week, he said he would continue in his post up to the end of November, in an effort to get UN-backed peace talks on track, and help lay the groundwork for a new constitution.
“We still have a very intense and hopefully fruitful month ahead. I am not laying down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate, Staffan de Mistura said.
“I plan to engage them on the work that has been done on the Constitutional Committee”, in the Syrian capital, he told the Council, adding that “without steps on a safe, calm and neutral environment, the work of a constitutional committee will not end up being very meaningful.”
Staffan de Mistura hoped progress would be made not only on a fresh constitutional settlement for a post-war Syria, but also “the Working Group on the release of detainees and abductees, the handover of bodies and the identification of missing people”, which had met again last week in Tehran. “We keep urging for the first tangible results. Many, many people in Syria are waiting for that,” he said.
Objections from Damascus were holding up the committee’s launch, he said, adding that the Government objected to the 50-member delegation put together by the UN, representing Syria experts, civil society, tribal leaders and women, among others.
Turning to conditions on the ground for the millions of Syrians displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance after more than seven years of brutal fighting, he said “a catastrophe has so far been averted in Idlib, and the Russian-Turkish memorandum of understanding appears to be being implemented. Major strides have been taken in defeating terrorism and this should continue to be a priority.”