- (Photo: REUTERS/Chip East)
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been named the U.N.-Arab League crisis envoy to Syria amid growing violence in the country.
Current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General for the Arab League, announced the appointment of Annan Thursday evening.
The Ghanaian diplomat's new appointment gives the former Nobel Peace Prize winner a mandate to promote a peaceful solution to the political situation in Syria, and to bring an ultimate end to the violence and human rights violations that have engulfed the country over the past 11 months.
Annan's mandate requires that he works to bring about a "peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people though a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition," according to the statement released Thursday.
Annan's appointment came on the eve of Friday's "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunisia. Delegates from over 70 countries attended the talks, the number including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"There should be no mistaking our resolve. These crimes against the Syrian people must stop, and there must be accountability for senior figures of the regime," Clinton said at the meeting.
The secretary of state also warned those who still support Assad's regime that it has "no future" and argued "the longer you carry out its campaign of violence, the more it will stain your honor."
The same day of the milestone meeting, Syria finally allowed medical evacuations out of the besieged city of Homs.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has been working with Syrian officials and opposition forces to evacuate wounded and sick individuals, in what some perceive as a minor step forward in abating the crisis.
The situation in Syria has reached a peak since December, and has become increasingly violent and militarized in the past three months, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.
An independent commission of experts from the United States, Brazil, and Turkey released the 72-page report detailing the gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity carried out by high-ranking Syrian officials and military officers, including rape, torture, indiscriminate shooting, and arbitrary arrests.
"The government has manifestly failed in its responsibility to protest populations; its forces have committed widespread, systematic, and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, with the apparent knowledge and consent of the highest levels of State," the report read.