The reasons for Kofi Annan’s resignation as the United Nations and Arab League joint special envoy to Syria bring into focus the difficulty establishing peace in the region in the foreseeable future. The former U.N. Secretary-General cited not only “increasing militarization on the ground” but also “a clear lack of unity” at the U.N. Security Council as reasons for his departure.
The crisis in Syria began in March 2011 when the Syrian military regime’s crackdown on peaceful protesters grew into a nationwide uprising that many in the international community consider a civil war. CNN reports that Syrian opposition forces say 20,000 people have died, thousands have been imprisoned, and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes.
Annan was appointed special envoy in February 2012 and presented a six-point plan to begin returning peace to the region. Perhaps the most important point, a ceasefire, was virtually ignored by both sides. The escalated fighting led U.N. monitors to suspend their observation mission out of security concerns.
Annan repeatedly asked the U.N. Security Council to bring significant consequences for the failure of both sides to respect previous resolutions, but the council could not agree on what those consequences should be, and the resolution was never passed.
“When the Security Council failed to heed Mr. Annan’s repeated calls for collective and significant consequences for non-compliance with its prior resolutions, those members who blocked this action effectively made Mr. Annan’s mission impossible,” said Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, in a written statement after his resignation.