European Union External Action

UN Security Council to Host Open Meeting of Syrian Voices on Preventing a Deathtrap in Idlib - 7 September

05/09/2018 - 16:10
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On Friday, 7 September, 2018, from 12:00–1:00 pm, the UN Security Council will host an Arria-Formula Open Meeting to highlight the dire humanitarian situation in Idlib and the possible consequences of a further military escalation, and to provide Syrian voices with a platform to inform an international response.

UN Security Council Chambers

Co-hosted by the Permanent Representative of France Ambassador François Delattre,
the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Ambassador Karel van Oosterom,
the Permanent Representative of Poland Ambassador Joanna Wronecka,
the Permanent Representative of Sweden Ambassador Olof Skoog,
the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom Ambassador Karen Pierce



In his statement on 29 August 2018, the UN Secretary-General expressed deep concern about the growing risks of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of a full-scale military operation in Idlib province and urgently appealed to the Government of Syria and all parties to exercise restraint and to prioritize the protection of civilians.

In a statement on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator to the Security Council on 28 August, the Security Council was called on ‘to avoid any further escalation of violence and an ensuing humanitarian catastrophe’; a ‘worst-case scenario in Idlib will overwhelm capacities and has the potential to create a humanitarian emergency at a scale not yet seen through the crisis’.

While Idlib is the last of the de-escalation zones agreed upon in Astana by Russia, Iran and Turkey, it is today at risk of facing a new military episode. It is therefore crucial to hear from Syrian political and civil society leaders on possible credible actions to be taken to protect civilians in Idlib as a matter of urgency.

Moving forward, the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly should also provide an opportunity to recommit to a political solution to the Syria conflict, in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions including UNSCR 2254 (2015) and the Geneva Communiqué, and to sustain the international response to the humanitarian and resilience needs of those affected by the crisis both inside Syria and across the region.



This event will be webcast  and open to the press. Participants and the audience will join the conversation using the social media hashtags #EyesOnIdlib, #Idlib, and #WithSyria.



The Arria formula meeting “Syrian Voices on Preventing a Deathtrap in Idlib” will feature representatives of the Syrian Negotiation Commission and Syrian civil society, including Hadi al-Bahra, Bassma Koudmani, Fadwa Ojyli, Hind Kabawat and Bahjat Hajjar.




Chief negotiator of the Syrian National Coalition delegation in Geneva

Hadi Al-Bahra was born in Damascus in 1959. He is the Chief negotiator of the Syrian National Coalition’s delegation to the Geneva talks and its former President (July 2014-January 2015).

Al-Bahra joined the National Coalition in May 2013. He was then elected to be the general secretary of the political committee. In July 2014, the coalition chose him to be the chief negotiator of its delegation to the Geneva II Conference on Syria.

Al-Bahra holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Wichita State University in the United States. He held senior position in the private sector in Saudi Arabia and Syria before the war.



Member of the Syrian Negotiation Commission

Bassma Kodmani is the former spokesperson of the National Coalition and current member of the Syrian Negotiation Commission in Geneva. She is co-founder and Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative and Associate Professor of International Relations at Paris University, currently on leave from her post.

In 2011, she became Head of Foreign Relations and spokesperson of the Syrian National Council. She resigned from that role in 2012. In 2016, she joined the delegation of the democratic opposition in the Geneva peace talks on Syria. She is also the co-founder and treasurer of the Initiative for a New Syria, an NGO based in Paris which supports democratic civil society in Syria.

Dr Kodmani holds a PhD in Political Science from Sciences-Po in Paris. She is the author or editor of seven books on Middle East conflicts and politics and publishes regularly in academic journals as well as in Arab and international media.



Fadwa Ojyli is a member of the Syrian Negotiation Commission and Deputy Head of the SNC External Affairs Committee Office. She has already briefed the Security Council in March 2018, focusing on the role of women in the peace and political process. 



Deputy Head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission in Geneva

Hind Kabawat is the deputy head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission in Geneva, a lawyer, the Director and Adjunct professor of Interfaith Peacebuilding at George Mason University's Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution, and a Visitor Fellow at Harvard Law School (PON) 2018-2019.

She was awarded in 2007 the Peacemakers in Action Award from the Tanenbaum Centre for Interreligious Understanding in New York, and the Public Diplomacy Award from CRDC, George Mason University 2009. 

In 2009, she was a member on the Future of the Middle East, World Economic Forum, Davos.  

She is founder member of  Tastakel, a women's organization dedicated to using non-violence and dialogue to address the ongoing conflict in Syria. Tastakel runs three Education women centres in southern Turkey and Idlib, teaching 200 IDPs, refugees and local women mediation and peace building.



Bahjat Hajjar is a Syrian researcher and activist.

He is a project manager for the Syrian Local Administration Councils, a Syrian civil society organization specialized in promoting local governance in Syria.

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