There came a window of opportunity. Russia was to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi, in February 2014. The eyes of the world were watching the country and its President, Vladimir Putin.
Having identified this opportunity with our partners, Crisis Action had to mobilise voices that could appeal to President Putin’s sense of global statesmanship and Russian stewardship. We reached out to allies like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Deputy UN Secretary-General, Mark Malloch-Brown. Because they agreed with the theory of change and saw their role in seeing it realised, they not only signed a letter, but secured the support of a further 49 former top diplomats, philanthropists and human rights defenders, including former US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher. Their joint letter was published in Russia’s Novaya Gazeta, the UK’s Financial Times, the New York Times, and France’s Le Monde.
Following the Sochi push, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed its first, landmark, resolution to address the humanitarian situation in Syria. This included the specific demands that Crisis Action had been enabling partners to advocate for on lifting blocks on humanitarian access, both across the conflict’s frontlines and Syria’s borders.
It still took a few months, but thanks to the collective efforts that secured this Resolution, UN aid trucks crossed Syria’s borders for the first time.