The UN Security Council [official website] on Friday unanimously approved resolution 2268 [press release], voting to endorse a Russian and American plan for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. The plan, which was drafted jointly by Russia and the US, also calls on the government and opposition to resume peace talks. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised [statement] the adoption of the resolution, calling its full implementation the “best chance to reduce the brutal violence in Syria.” UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura stressed [UN News Centre report] to the council that Saturday would be a critical day for the plan’s implementation, as there would likely be many attempts to undermine the process.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Earlier this month the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic reported [JURIST report] that the Syrian conflict has had an unyielding effect on its civilians as it enters its sixth year. Also in February the UN rights office condemned [JURIST report] airstikes in Syria that hit hospitals and schools in the region, saying they may constitute war crimes. That same week the human rights office reported [JURIST report] that the Syrian government is systematically exterminating detainees.