Member Sign In
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
PDF Print E-mail
Syria Alert XIV: Can de Mistura’s “freeze” plan save Aleppo, and under what conditions?
4 December, 2014

On 30 October, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura presented the idea of “freeze” zones where fighting would be stopped, to start with Aleppo. While some powerful voices rejected the plan, others saw in it a new hope to change the dynamics of conflict. The “freeze” plan is currently being translated into an operational plan and is gaining some traction. The Syrian regime and its key ally Russia indicated a willingness to support the UN proposal. Their support, however, fuels suspicion that the “freeze” will only be used to consolidate territories and to regroup and rearm for further fighting. De Mistura introduced the term “freezes” as distinct from previous local ceasefires. These ceasefires were often a forced surrender of the opposition and the population after a campaign of starvation and bombardments by the Assad regime. These were tactical security arrangements and had no connection to a political process. Taking into consideration previous local ceasefires and the urgent situation in Aleppo, this special edition of Syria Alert, prepared in cooperation with our Syrian partner Etana, addresses the question: Can de Mistura’s “freeze” plan save Aleppo, and under what conditions?
  • This Syria Alert concludes that de Mistura’s “freeze” plan must include specific measures (see below) to protect civilians, improve the human security situation in and around Aleppo and strengthen the role of citizens. In that case, the “freeze” could be an example to build on in other parts of Syria and change the political stalemate. If, however, these measures are not taken, the plan could lead to a new situation of injustice that will result in a new stage of conflict. A “freeze” based on war crimes and forced surrender will play in the hands of radical groups, rather than lead to better living conditions for the citizens in Aleppo who are desperate for such an improvement. In that case de Mistura’s “freeze” plan would be yet another lost opportunity in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
  •  A “freeze” in Aleppo will require tacit approval from all parties that have control over a part of Aleppo, as well as their international supporters. A UN Security Council resolution would be the preferred legal framework for the “freeze”.
  • PAX believes the following measures must be taken to make de Mistura’s plan a window of opportunity for saving Aleppo and increase human security in the city:
1. The “freeze” plan has to include a UN monitoring mechanism on the ground to observe and document the implementation by all parties involved. 
2. Significant and sustainable improvement of the humanitarian situation must be organized and secured.
3. A multi-faceted international program to support and promote inclusive and responsive local government should be implemented in Aleppo as part of the “freeze” plan. 
4. Commitment of local commanders from the armed opposition as well as the Syrian army and regime-loyal armed groups has to be secured.
  • A freeze in Aleppo will not be the final solution for the violent conflict in Syria, but will at best improve the human security situation in the city and create a different conflict dynamic with international involvement aiming at protection of civilians and a political solution to the conflict. The “freeze” plan, even if realized, does not relieve the international community from its responsibility and duty to find a political solution to the conflict by facilitating political transition and accountability for war crimes.
Click here to read the full report.

Browse Documents by Region:

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
c/o World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
708 Third Avenue, Suite 1715, New York, NY 10017