A country on the brink of civil war
Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syria for the violence perpetrated against its civilian population.
Russia felt that the resolution was designed by Western powers to edge towards a regime change in the country and would not support such a move. Russia tabled amendments to the resolution which would allow them to support the amended resolution. These included words apportioning equal blame on armed elements of the opposition, something the Western powers would not support.
Various speakers have said that the move will embolden President Bashar Al-Assad, with a full scale bombardment now in place against the city of Homs. Arab League monitors, if they haven’t left the country, are currently not active across the country.
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported the veto with a long statement from its UN Ambassador. The first paragraphs sum up the Syrian position as follows:
‘Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari affirmed that Syria is a victim of a crisis triggered by parties who do not want good for Syria and its people, and that these are providing money and weapons to terrorist groups perpetrating murder, abduction and vandalism.
In a speech during the Security Council meeting, al-Jaafari stressed that Syria will not wait for lessons in democracy and human rights from countries that deal with these concepts in the same way that they deal with opportunist sales and purchases in stock markets, adding that Syria will become stable and safe as it always has and will remain a country of tolerance and openness to all its children’.
Recent reports coming out of the country suggest that large parts of Damascus, the capital, is now suffering protests and armed battles along with most parts of the country. The Syrian Free Army has pledged further attacks on the army and government. Along with the bombardment of various towns by government forces and larger areas of countryside being controlled by the Syrian Free Army, it is difficult to see how a full scale civil war can now be averted.
The full text of the United Nations Security Council Resolution is as follows:
The Security Council,
Recalling its presidential statement of 3 August 2011,
Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176 of 19 December 2011, as well as Human Rights Council resolutions S/16-1, S/17-1 and S/18-1,
Noting the League of Arab States’ request in its decision of 22 January 2012,
Expressing grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in Syria, and profound concern at the death of thousands of people and calling for an immediate end to all violence,
Welcoming the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011 and its subsequent decisions, including its decision of 22 January 2012, which aims to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis,
Noting the deployment of the League of Arab States’ observer mission, commending its efforts, regretting that, due to the escalation in violence, the observer mission was not in a position to monitor the full implementation of the League of Arab States’
Action Plan of 2 November 2011, and noting the subsequent decision of the League of Arab states to suspend the mission,
Underscoring the importance of ensuring the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in safety and with dignity,
Mindful that stability in Syria is key to peace and stability in the region,
Noting the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regretting the lack of progress in implementation,
Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, emphasizing its intention to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully, and noting that nothing in this resolution authorizes measures under Article 42 of the Charter,
Welcoming the engagement of the Secretary-General and all diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing the situation, and noting in this regard the offer of the Russian Federation to host a meeting in Moscow, in consultation with the League of Arab States,
1. Condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protestors and members of the media, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children;
2. Demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, protect its population, fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law and fully implement the Human Rights Council resolutions S-16/1, S-17/1, S-18/1 and the General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176;
3. Condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and in this regard demands that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop all violence or reprisals, including attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative;
4. Recalls that all those responsible for human rights violations, including acts of violence, must be held accountable;
5. Demands that the Syrian government, in accordance with the Plan of Action of the League of Arab States of 2 November 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012, without delay:
(a) cease all violence and protect its population;
(b) release all persons detained arbitrarily due to the recent incidents;
(c) withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks;
(d) guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations;
(e) allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States’ institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place; and
(f) allow full and unhindered access to the League of Arab States’ observer mission;
6. Calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism, and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s people, without prejudging the outcome;
7. Fully supports in this regard the League of Arab States’ 22 January 2012 decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States;
8. Encourages the League of Arab States to continue its efforts in cooperation with all Syrian stakeholders;
9. Calls upon the Syrian authorities, in the event of a resumption of the observer mission, to cooperate fully with the League of Arab States’ observer mission, in accordance with the League of Arabs States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011, including through granting full and unhindered access and freedom of movement to the observers, facilitating the entry of technical equipment necessary for the mission, guaranteeing the mission’s right to interview, freely or in private, any individual and guaranteeing also not to punish, harass, or retaliate against, any person who has cooperated with the mission;
10. Stresses the need for all to provide all necessary assistance to the mission in accordance with the League of Arab States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012;
11. Demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the Commission of Inquiry dispatched by the Human Rights Council, including by granting it full and unimpeded access to the country;
12. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance;
13. Welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts to provide support to the League of Arab States, including its observer mission, in promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis;
14. Requests the Secretary General to report on the implementation of this resolution, in consultation with the League of Arab States, within 21 days after its adoption and to report every 30 days thereafter;
15. Decides to review implementation of this resolution within 21 days and, in the event of non-compliance, to consider further measures;
16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.