[New York 9 January 2018] The Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) has warned of the risk of the United Nations process in Geneva being undermined by a ‘parallel process’, during meetings with the UN in New York.

An SNC delegation led by chief negotiator Dr Nasr Al-Hariri met UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffery Feltman, on Monday 8 January 2018. The SNC delegation also met Ambassadors representing Security Council and General Assembly member states.‘The SNC called for international pressure on the regime to negotiate in Geneva,’ said SNC spokesman Dr Yahya Aridi. The delegation made clear that Russia’s planned meeting in Sochi would not achieve this.

‘The Sochi process risks undermining the Geneva talks and the goal of transition set out in the Geneva Communique and UN Security Council resolution 2254,’ said Dr Aridi. ‘There is a political process, it is in Geneva, and it is not working because the regime refuses to negotiate. A parallel process will not change that reality and in fact risks emboldening the regime and its commitment to a military strategy.’

In a meeting with the United Kingdom’s UN Permanent Representative, Matthew Rycroft, the SNC said that ‘the fundamental sticking point is that we are negotiating in good faith, but the regime is not negotiating at all,’ said Dr Aridi.

The SNC was clear that the international community, including the UK, needed to help change the dynamic by working with allies to put pressure on the regime to negotiate at Geneva. The delegation urged the UK to use the January 11th meeting of allies in Washington DC to come up with a strategy to better support Geneva and apply real pressure to the regime and its backers.