International recognition of the Syrian National Council

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The Syrian National Council (SNC)1 is recognized by 7 UN members, the Republic of Kosovo and the European Union as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people in the midst of the Syrian civil war, with three of those being permanent members of the Security Council. One country, Libya, recognises the SNC as the legitimate government of Syria.

In November 2012, the council agreed to unify with several other opposition groups such as the NCCDC and the Damascus Declaration to form the Syrian National Coalition. The SNC had 22 out of 60 seats of the Syrian National Coalition.234 On January 2014 the Council withdrew from the Syrian National Coalition in protest at the decision of the coalition to attend the Geneva talks.5

International standing and recognition

The Syrian National Council has asked for recognition within the international community, but it also denies that it seeks to play the role of a government-in-exile.6

As of 27 February 2012, the Syrian National Council is currently recognised or supported in some capacity by 17 UN member states, with three of those being permanent members of the Security Council, France,7 the United States,8 the United Kingdom,9 Spain, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Egypt, and also Libya's National Transitional Council,10 who announced that it had been in talks with the Syrian National Council and is considering to give weapons, volunteer fighters, and training via National Liberation Army to the Free Syrian Army.11 It has received support of the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.12 The Foreign Ministers of seven UN member states, notably Russia and the People's Republic of China, have met with representatives of the council, but have not recognized or supported it officially in any capacity nor have they, excepting Australia and Austria, explicitly rejected the Assad government.

Map of states that have/have not recognised the Syrian National Council
  Syria
  States that have diplomatically recognised the SNC as the sole legitimate government of Syria
  States that officially support/recognise the SNC as a partner in dialogue or as an opposition group
  States that unofficially support the SNC as partner in dialogue
  States with informal relations with the SNC
  States that have not expressed support for the SNC

UN member states

Rank Entity Date/Status of recognition Notes
1  Libya10 Recognised on 19 October 2011
(as legitimate authority)
"The National Transitional Council has decided after a meeting today to recognise the Syrian National Council as the sole legitimate government in Syria," NTC member Mussa al-Koni said on 10 October. Koni also announced the closure of the Syrian Embassy in Tripoli.10 On 19 October, the NTC formally announced its recognition of the SNC as Syria's "legitimate authority".13 The NTC promised the representatives of SNC to hand them over the embassy of Syria in Tripoli.14

The Libyan NTC also announced that it had been in talks with the Syrian National Council and was considering supplying weapons and volunteer fighters of the National Liberation Army to the Free Syrian Army.11

2  France7 Recognised on 21 November 2011
(as legitimate interlocutor), on 13 November 2012 (as sole legitimate representative)15
"The Syrian National Council is the legitimate interlocutor with which we will continue to work," French foreign minister Alain Juppe stated on November 21, 2011.
3  Spain1617 Recognised on 23 November 2011
(as representative of Syrian people)
Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiménez confirmed that the Spanish government will look to SNC to discuss issues concerning Syria, and that the channels of dialogue with the Syrian regime have been closed. Jiménez said "Spain support for the SNC as the main interlocutor of the Syrian people, who are seeking freedom and democracy".
4  United States18 Recognised on 5 December 2011
(as legitimate representative)
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, deemed the Syrian National Council as a “leading and legitimate representative of Syrians seeking a peaceful democratic transition,” and that the United States was “committed to helping... make this transition.”19
5  United Kingdom20 Recognised on 24 February 2012
(As legitimate representative)
Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt met SNC members in Paris on 12 October 2011. Burt stated, “The establishment of the Syrian National Council marked a positive step in bringing together a broad range of Syrian opposition representatives."21 The following month, Foreign Secretary William Hague met with representatives of the SNC and National Coordination Body on 21 November. Speaking about the meeting, Hague remarked, “We will continue our contacts with the Syrian opposition. I’ve appointed a senior official to lead our liaison and coordination with them... The message for the regime is that the rest of the world is talking to the Syrian opposition, that we are looking to a different future for Syria, for the Syrian people to decide for themselves what, what we want is what so many people in Syria want, a free and democratic future for the people of Syria. And I think the Assad regime will find that more and more Governments around the world are willing to work with the opposition to step up the level of their contacts as we have done today as part of the increasing pressure on this regime and its completely unacceptable behaviour.” After a meeting with the Friends of Syria in Tunis, William Hague said the UK will recognise the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people22
6  Egypt23 Recognised on 24 February 2012
(As an opposition group)
On 24 February 2012, on the heels of the inaugural Friends of Syria Group meeting in Tunis, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr revealed that Cairo recognizes all Syrian opposition factions.
7  Albania24 Recognised on 1 April 2012
(as representative of Syrian people)
During the meeting on 1 April 2012 Friends of Syria in Istanbul the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, Edmond Haxhinasto underlined the support of the Albanian Government for the Syrian democratic opposition represented by the Syrian National Council, as well as its war for freedom, human dignity and progress.24
8  Denmark25 Recognised on 9 December 2012
(as legitimate representative)
9  Turkey12 Rejection of Assad government12
Formal relations from 14 December26
Verbal Support
On 15 November 2011, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, has expressed his support for the Syrian National Council, saying that "Turkey had lost confidence in the leadership of Bashar al-Assad" and that "the Syrian leader will pay the price sooner or later".12 On 14 December 2011, SNC opened its first office in Istanbul.26Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been trying to "cultivate a favorable relationship with whatever government would take the place of Assad."27
10  Tunisia Rejection of Assad government28
Verbal support
Rashid al-Ghannushi, president of Ennahda Movement, Tunisia's largest party stated on 2 November that SNC is the legitimate representative of Syria, at the same time he closed Syrian embassy in Tunis and ousted Syrian ambassador.28 On 16 December, SNC hold three-day congress (its first international congress) in Tunis where Tunisia's newly elected president, Moncef Marzouki, participated in the talks and had a press conference with SNC's president Burhan Ghalioun.2930 On 19 December Burhan Ghalioun announced that the new Tunisian government will officially recognise the Council.31
11  Italy Informal relations3233
Verbal support
Rejection of Assad government
On 25 November Italian Foreign Minister, Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata reiterated Italy's support to "organised opposition" in the shape of SNC.32 On 11 December, Terzi met SNC's president Burhan Ghalioun and said Italy would intensify its contacts with SNC which grouped "an important segment" of the Syrian opposition.
12  Bulgaria34 Verbal support
Rejection of Assad government
Informal relations
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov announced that the Syrian National Council "is an important partner in dialogue on the future of Syria".
13  Canada35 Rejection of Assad government
Informal relations
Foreign Minister John Baird, in a 16 December speech in the House of Commons stated, ""Assad will fall. The government will fall. It's only a matter of time". Later that day, Baird met with a Syrian National Council delegation led by Council President Burhan Ghalioun. The council expressed its gratitude for Canada's assistance to the SNC, including international lobbying for new UN Security Council resolutions and its rejection of the Assad government. Discussions were held on Canada's participation in humanitarian assistance during a transitional period and in the rebuilding of a post-Assad Syria.36
14  Netherlands Verbal support
Rejection of Assad government
Informal relations
Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal met with Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the Syrian National Council on 17 January 2012. Rosenthal has pledged to continue to increase pressure on the Assad government, specifically by promoting EU sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions toward this end. Rosenthal further stated, "It’s time for this to stop: Assad must step down and make way for a democratic Syria."37 He went on to praise the courage of the Syrian demonstrators and the SNC's role in "representing Syrian issues at an international level."38
15  Germany Verbal support
Rejection of Assad government
Informal relations
In a 6 August 2011 interview, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle remarked that "I don't believe that Assad has a political future ahead of him which is supported by the Syrian people". The German foreign ministry is reportedly in talks with the Syrian opposition.39 In November 2011, a Syrian National Council delegation met with Westerwelle and other high level foreign policy decision makers to brief them on developments in Syria. Westerwelle said "we cannot remain quiet to the human rights violations in Syria.” He then lauded the efforts of the National Council and discussed future cooperation with the SNC regarding the transition phase to democracy.40
16  Belgium41 Verbal support
Informal relations
A group of Belgian Foreign Ministry officials, headed by Foreign Minister Didier Reynders met with a delegation of the Syrian National Council on 5 January 2012. At the meeting, Reynders informed the delegates that he would to refer the SNC requests for the establishment of a European assistance fund for the Syrian people to the European Union, and would work to "support the SNC's goals until they become a reality on the ground."
17  Saudi Arabia Informal relations
Verbal support
On 22 January 2012, A SNC delegation met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, who pledged "Saudi Arabia's support and commitment to stand by the Syrian people and to help alleviate their suffering in this crisis."42 In a 27 January 2012 interview with the Kuwaiti Al-Rai newspaper, SNC Executive Council member Ahmad Ramadan reported that Prince Saud al-Faisal met a SNC delegation in Cairo the week previously. Saud informed them that Saudi Arabia will recognise the SNC as the "official representative of the Syrian people", at a yet unspecified date.43 The UK newspaper, The Times reported that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are to begin funding the Syrian National Council and other armed groups fighting the Assad regime.44
18  Qatar44 Rejection of Assad government The UK newspaper, The Times reported that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are to begin funding the Syrian National Council and other armed groups fighting the Assad regime. Prime Minister and foreign minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani visited the United Nations to formally present UN Security Council Ambassadors with a plan for Assad to step down and reliquish power to his Vice-President in lieu of a transitional unity government. Speaking at a 10 March 2010 Arab ministerial meeting, Hamad advised the opposition to unify in order to "merge into one voice that expresses the aspirations of their people so that they can face the tyranny of the regime." Additionally, he called for recognition of the SNC as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in his opening remarks.45
19  Australia Informal relations
Rejection of Assad government
On 20 January 2012, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd publicly rejected the Assad regime in a joint press conference with French foreign Minister Alan Juppe. "Our view in Australia is that Assad must go."46 On 24 January, Rudd met with UK foreign minister William Hague, and announced that he had met with Burhan Ghalioun, the President of the SNC, in the previous week.47
20  Austria48 Informal relations
Rejection of Assad government
Vice Chancellor and Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Spindelegger met with SNC President Burhan Ghalioun on 9 December 2011. In a statement regarding the meeting, Spindelegger stated, "A regime that cracks down against its own people with inhumane violence has lost all its legitimacy. With his recent statements, President Assad has proven again that he is either a ruthless cynic or that he lives in a grotesque world of illusion. He must step down immediately, to finally allow for a peaceful transition to a new leadership“.
21  Portugal49 Informal relations A Syrian National Council delegation, headed by Burhan Ghalioun, met on 3 January 2012 with Foreign Minister Paulo Portas in Lisbon. After a briefing on the current situation in Syria, Portas was requested by the delegation to formally reject the Assad regime, and to use Portugal's influence with Brazil to get the South American country to do the same.
22  Norway50 Informal relations A Syrian National Council delegation visited Oslo and met with foreign ministry officials, along with political, and humanitarian groups to promote its cause from 9–11 December 2012. The council delegation met with the foreign minister, whom had a reaction to their requests that the delegation reported as "generally positive."
23  Russia51 Informal relations The Syrian National Council sent a delegation to Moscow to meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 15 November 2011 in response to an official invitation. While in Moscow, the council met with high level Russian government officials, notably the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Mikhail Bogdanov; and the Vice Chairman of the Russian Federation, Ilyas Umakhanov.
24  China52 Informal relations A high-level SNC delegation visited Beijing on 10 May 2012 and met with the Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the Deputy Foreign Minister, and the Director of External Communication for the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. According to the SNC, Yang promised to "look into" issuing a permit for the SNC to open an official office in China.
25  Japan53 Informal relations On 11 May 2012, a SNC Delegation visited the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SNC President Burhan Ghalioun held discussions with Foreign Mninister Koichiro Gemba. Later, Ghalioun met with Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Ryuji Yamane and former UN Under Secretary General Yasushi Akashi.
26  Sweden54 Verbal support
Informal relations
Asked about recognising SNC, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt commented: "We are talking to them, as we are talking to a lot of other people who have the ability to influence events in Syria. We will be discussing that further today."

Non-UN member states

  •  Kosovo: On 23 August 2011 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo with a statement said that the government and the people of the Republic of Kosovo support "the efforts of the Syrian people as they strive towards freedom and democracy". He also mentioned that: "The Republic of Kosovo joins all democratic countries in opposing the violence and repression against the Syrian demonstrators. By ordering the repression of his own people through violent acts that have resulted in numerous fatalities, President Assad has lost the right to govern the country. The People of Syria have the right to build their lives in freedom, with freedom of speech, and with the guarantee that their human rights will be respected by the government."55

Autonomous regions

International organisations

International organisation Position
 European Union (EU) On 10 October 2011, EU officially supported SNC and "welcomed their initiatives", but without recognition.57 Later at a 27 February 2012 EU foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, the EU formally recognised the Syrian National Council as "a legitimate representative of the Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change" in addition to announcing new sanctions against the Assad government.58 The SNC welcomed the move in a 28 February 2012 press release.59 On 2 March 2012, EU officially recognized the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of Syrian people.
International Union for Muslim Scholars On 15 October 2011, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, president of IUMS recognised SNC as the sole representative of Syria.60
 Arab League On 6 March 2013, the Syrian National Coalition was granted Syria's seat in the Arab League.61

Political parties and legislatures

  •  Algeria: On 14 November 2011, Abbassi Madani, president of Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria recognised the SNC as the sole representative of Syria.62
  •  Bahrain: On 7 March 2012, The Council of Representatives of Bahrain voted to request that the government recognize the Syrian National Council as the representative of the Syrian people.63
  •  Egypt: On 11 October 2011, Democratic Alliance for Egypt has stated its support for the council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.64
  •  Jordan: On 15 November 2011, Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, recognised the SNC.65
  •  Kuwait: On 28 October 2011, National Assembly of Kuwait requested the Kuwaiti government to recognise the SNC as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.66 On 6 December, Kuwait's Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah dissolved the assembly.67 However on 29 February, the next parliament voted 44-5 (including all cabinet members voting in favour) to approve a new non-binding resolution to request that the government recognise the SNC.68
  •  Lebanon: The opposition March 14th Alliance has praised the Syria National Council's "Open letter to the Lebanese people" of 26 January 2012. “The General Secretariat considers the SNC statement as a sign of hope and a courageous step that opens a new page in the Lebanese-Syrian ties based on the sovereignty and independence of both countries... March 14 looks forward to further communication with the SNC.”69 In addition, the two largest organized parties forming the coalition have voiced positive reactions to the SNC communique:
    • Future Movement: Lebanon's largest opposition party reacted positively to the SNC's proposals to review all present Lebanese-Syrian agreements and demarcate the border between the two countries once in power. “The council’s brave step will pave the way for a new chapter of ties between Lebanon and Syria.. “These ties will properly reflect the fraternal relationship between the countries.. The movement voices its complete support for the Syrian people’s choices in its pursuit for freedom and democracy.”70
    • Lebanese Forces: Party chairman Samir Geagea remarked that "“The statement of the SNC is a new gateway to correct the ties between Lebanon and Syria.. What is more important is that the clauses of the statement be implemented.” Geagea went on to criticise the Lebanese government's handling of the Syrian Uprising, specifically noting that Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour is "not applying the policy of disassociating Lebanon from the Syrian crisis... How can the government match the policy of disassociation with the advocacies of Mansour defending the Syrian regime during the Arab League’s meeting on Syrian crisis?”. He called on the government to “take all the necessary measures to protect civilians” from rights violations by Syrian security authorities, and requested that the cabinet "ask the Syrian government to apologize and put an end to the violations along the border, otherwise, it must resort to the UN Security Council.”71
  •  Pakistan: On 19 October 2011, Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan recognised SNC and requested the Pakistani government and Islamic countries to do the same thing.72

See also

References

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