Talk of weapons, chemical or otherwise, dominated this year's UN General Assembly. World leaders are now closer to a resolution on how to manage a safe and speedy removal of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, momentous discussions on Iran's nuclear program have moved forward and history was made on Wednesday when the U.S. joined 100 other UN member states in signing the Arms Trade Treaty.
On Syria, it seems that talk might finally turn into concrete action -- with diplomats signaling that a UN Security Council resolution backing a plan to remove the country's chemical weapons is well within reach. Progress on this resolution represents a much-needed display of unity from countries that have so far failed to overcome deep divisions to their approach on the conflict in Syria. But the removal of chemical weapons alone won't bring an end to the suffering; Syrian men, women and children are continuing to die every day -- largely through the use of conventional weapons.
Syrians need to see this unity translate into a concrete and comprehensive plan to bring the warring parties to the table for peace talks. The pressure is on.
While leaders were at the negotiating table inside the UN building, Oxfam campaigners took to the streets outside to remind them that real people, both in Syria and around the world, are waiting and watching for their leadership on Syria. Syrians are counting on them to do the right thing and prioritize a political solution that will bring an end to the conflict once and for all.
The 3D painting by artist Eduardo Relero portrays Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and US President Barack Obama (right) talking over a map of Syria whilst refugees look on. Credit: Shant Alexander
Oxfam and more than a dozen aid agencies also handed in the signatures of more than 100,000 people who signed a petition targeting Presidents Obama and Putin. In a letter sent to both presidents a group of NGOs said "We are writing to communicate the views of over 100,000 members of the public from around the world who have signed a petition calling on you to work with President Putin to make urgent progress on a Syria peace talks. Building on the recent diplomatic progress on Syria's chemical weapons, we hope that agreement can be reached at the UN General Assembly in New York this week on a clear timeline for the Geneva conference. "
Oxfam campaigners in front of the UN Building calling for peace talks. Credit: Shant Alexander
As Liqaa', the Syrian refugee who joined with Oxfam and partners to launch the petition for peace talks, said: "Our children are crying for peace, but I don't want mine to have to cry for it. We've shed enough tears and blood already. What we need is an end to the suffering. That is my dream."
When you think about Liqaa' and her newborn baby, the 2 million refugees spread across Syria's neighboring countries and the millions who have fled their homes inside Syria, you realize that the price of further delays to diplomatic progress is just too heavy to bear.
For more information on the work of Oxfam in Syria, CLICK HERE