July 19, 2012 (TSR) – The permanent UN Security Council members on Thursday blocked the resolution which called for new sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The vote had been postponed on Wednesday upon a request by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and warnings from Moscow that the resolution for sanctions “would amount to direct support” for the terrorist groups in that country.
Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, wielded veto power over a western-proposed draft resolution, which demands extension of UNSMIS for a period of 45 days, and threatens non- military sanctions by quoting Chapter VII of the UN Charter if the Syrian government fails to pull out troops and heavy weapons from populated areas.
The unadopted resolution received eleven votes in favor, two against and two abstentions.
The draft resolution demands “all parties in Syria, including the opposition, immediately cease all armed violence in all its forms, thereby creating an atmosphere conducive to a sustained cessation of violence and a Syria-led political transition.”
It further indicates that if the Syrian authorities have not fully complied with the above requirement within ten days, the Council “shall impose immediately measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter.”
The Article 41 of the Charter gives the Council right to employ economic and diplomatic sanctions — not involving the use of armed force — to give effect to its decision and may call member states to apply such measures.
The West Reacts with threats
Britain, France and Germany have criticized China and Russia for their veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution urging sanctions against the Syrian government.
US envoy to the UN Susan Rice also denounced the veto as “dangerous and deplorable,” claiming that the resolution was not aimed at military intervention in Syria but to provide support for diplomatic efforts.
Rice told the Security Council that it “utterly failed” on Syria. “We will intensify our work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need,” she said.
“The United Kingdom is appalled at the veto of Russia and China,” said Britain’s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant, whose country led the anti-Syrian motion at the council.
France’s UN Ambassador Gerard Araud also claimed that the veto threatened to end the peace mission of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
“We will continue to support Syrian opposition,” he vowed.
The German envoy Peter Wittig also followed suit to criticize the veto, saying that the resolution would not have led to military intervention.
Wittig accused the Syrian government of breaking all its commitments and embarking on a war with its own people. The days of President Assad are being numbered, he said.
China, Russia Defend their Consistent Stance in Honoring Syrian Sovereign Right
Russia remains opposed to any threat of sanctions against Syria in fear of unilateral sanctions sending the conflict-plagued country into a civil war.
In explanatory speech after the vote, Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin called the resolution just voted on “biased”.
“The sanctions leveled exclusively at the Syrian government, counter the spirit of Geneva’s document and does not reflect the reality in the country today,” he said.
Churkin noted that the draft presented by his country is meant to bring the members of the Council together, further back UN-Arab League Joint Envoy Kofi Annan’s plan and to extend the mandate of UNSMIS.
“We believe that the continued confrontation in the Security Council to be useless and counterproductive,” said Churkin, adding that for this reason Russia would not submit its own draft for a vote.
Churkin also suggested the Council adopt a brief, depoliticized resolution on a technical extension of UNSMIS’ mandate for a specific period of time with a view to “preserving the useful potential” of the mission.
China slammed the vetoed draft as “seriously problematic” with uneven content that is intended to put pressure on only one party in Syria and insisted that the draft further seriously eroded international trust and cooperation on the Syrian issue.
Chinese UN envoy Li Baodong denounced the resolution for violating the consensus reached in the talks held in Geneva earlier in the month.
He said the draft was aimed at putting pressure on only one party and that it would have undermined regional peace, had it been approved.
“The draft resolution jeopardizes the unity of the Security Council,” said Li Baodong, China’s permanent representative to the UN. “It is even more regrettable that, under circumstances when parties were still seriously divided and there was still enough time for continued consultation, the sponsoring countries refused to heed the call of China, some other Security Council members and Special Envoy Annan for further consultation until a text acceptable to all parties is formed, and pressed for a vote on the draft resolution.”
“China is strongly opposed to such practice,” said Li, who reiterated that China has no self interest in the Syrian issue.
“We have all along maintained that the prospect and destiny of Syria should be independently determined by the Syrian people, rather than imposed by outside forces. We believe the Syrian issue must be resolved through political means, and military means would go nowhere,” Li said.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin also defended the veto, arguing that the draft resolution was “biased,” and that the sponsors of the draft were already aware it would be vetoed.
He also reiterated Russia’s opposition against any foreign military invention in Syria.
In a news conference shortly after the Security Council vote, Churkin said the British-proposed draft resolution against Syria was ridiculous as it contained two points that contradict each other.
He said talking about sanctions against Syria is inappropriate. “We do not back actions which are detrimental,” he told reporters.
Churkin described the unrest in Syria as a geopolitical battle that is being fought in the Arab nation.
He urged that the international community should focus its efforts to support UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s efforts to restore calm in Syria, warning that some countries are trying to distract the world’s attention from Annan’s peace plan.