Welcome to the United Nations

Special Envoy Syria

Syrian Arab Republic
Established: February 2012
Children arriving at a makeshift shelter, fleeing fighting in Idlib. On 12 September 2018 just 50 kilometers north of Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic, almost 400 families have taken shelter in a new makeshift camp, as they flee the violence in southern rural Idlib. UNICEF/Aaref Watad
Families fleeing fighting in Idlib. UNICEF/Aaref Watad

The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) has been closely monitoring the evolving situation in Syria and the multifaceted conflict dynamics since protests erupted in March 2011. The United Nations supports the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, through its facilitation of an inclusive, credible, sustainable, Syrian-led political solution to the Syrian conflict, that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to dignity, freedom and justice based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.


In February 2012, the General Assembly passed resolution 66/253 requesting the UN to partner with the League of Arab States in support of a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict through a political transition. This led to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s appointment as Joint Special Envoy. In April 2012, the Security Council adopted resolutions 2042 and 2043 endorsing Annan’s six-point plan and establishing the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) to monitor and support its implementation. In June 2012, Annan convened a meeting where key international and regional stakeholders adopted the Geneva Communiqué, a document which aimed to strengthen the implementation of the six-point plan and chart a political way forward. To this day, the Communique continues to guide UN mediation efforts toward a political transition. The Geneva Communique was endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 66/253-B in August 2012 and by the Security Council in resolution 2118 in September 2013. Amidst increasing violence across the entire country, the Security Council was unable to renew the UNSMIS mandate beyond August 2012.


In August 2012, following the departure of Kofi Annan, the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Arab League appointed Lakhdar Brahimi as their new Joint Special Representative. The Secretary-General convened an international conference (“Geneva II”) in January 2014, followed by intra-Syrian negotiations facilitated by Brahimi in Geneva. The negotiations aimed to provide space for the Syrian sides to agree on a full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. While the parties agreed on an agenda (transitional governing body; violence and terrorism; national institutions; reconciliation) they could not agree on the sequence for negotiating these issues. Brahimi suspended the negotiations and did not extend his assignment beyond May 2014.


The Secretary-General appointed Staffan de Mistura as Special Envoy for Syria in July 2014. Intense diplomatic engagement in 2015 between Russia and the US, and other key international stakeholders resulted in the establishment of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). Resolution 2254 (2015) reiterated the endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué and set the Special Envoy’s mandate. The resolution established a sequence and timeline for a political transition, including negotiations on the establishment of a credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance and a process and timeline for drafting a new constitution. It also called for free and fair elections, including with the diaspora, pursuant to the new constitution and held under UN supervision.


From January 2016 to January 2018, Special Envoy de Mistura conducted a series of intra-Syrian talks. By late 2017 and throughout 2018, these efforts progressively focused on two key aspects of resolution 2254: the schedule and process for drafting a new constitution and precise requirements for UN-supervised elections.  


In January 2019, Geir O. Pedersen succeeded de Mistura as Special Envoy for Syria. He currently leads the UN’s efforts to advance the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254, including facilitation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. Special Envoy Pedersen also continues to advocate for a constructive international diplomacy by encouraging key stakeholders to discuss with the UN concrete, mutual, reciprocal and verifiable steps to help save lives, ease suffering, and restore stability in Syria.


Since the beginning of the conflict, Syria has witnessed unprecedented devastation and displacement, compounded by the violations of international law, humanitarian law and human rights law, including the use of internationally proscribed chemical weapons. Impunity has been a hallmark of the Syrian conflict, has hindered conflict resolution efforts,  and has challenged one of the UN’s core values—accountability. An important step to address accountability was made on 21 December 2016 when the General Assembly adopted resolution 71-248 to establish the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the most serious crimes under international law, in particular the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.



OCHA http://www.unocha.org/syria

OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/SYIndex.aspx

Commission of Inquiry of the Human Rights Council (COI)http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/IICISyria/Pages/IndependentInternationalCommission.aspx

UNDP http://www.sy.undp.org/

UNHCR http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

IIIM https://iiim.un.org/mandate/


Special Envoy: Geir O. Pedersen

Deputy Special Envoy: Najat Rochdi


National staff: 31

International staff: 60

Total: 91