On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) took a significant step toward addressing the ongoing crisis in Syria by agreeing on a Presidential statement supporting the Joint Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan’s six-point proposal including a call for a ceasefire in Syria and for opening conflict areas to allow the delivery of aid to vulnerable civilians.

Although presidential statements have no legal force, they do require the unanimous support of all fifteen UNSC members.  The passage of this statement is particularly noteworthy because of the fact that it garnered the support of both Russia and China, which have previously been notoriously staunch supporters of the Assad regime. The presidential statement also further isolates the regime and increases Annan’s chances of succeeding in his mission. While this is a significant step for the international community, it remains to be seen whether this will help quell the violence in Syria.

The outcome of Annan’s effort coupled with the upcoming Friends of Syria meeting to be held on April 1st in Istanbul Turkey, will shape what happens next in Syria. Russia may loosen its objections to punitive measures against Assad if the institutions set forth in this Presidential Statement are ignored.

While the advancements made this week at the UN were positive, there is still much to be done in ending the violence in Syria that has claimed over 8,000 lives. Next month, the United States will assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council which provides a great opportunity to take on a leadership role in pushing for movement on critical humanitarian issues, including the ongoing violence in Syria.  We hope that next month will see even more steps towards the protection of Syrians.

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