Evelyn Leopold: Deaths in Syria Too Brutal for UN Council to Stay Silent
As the Syrian military killed more and more people, all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council for the first time condemned the government's use of force against civilians and its gross violations of human rights.
In a policy statement (see text), the Council called President Bashar al-Assad's government to allow international humanitarian agencies to visit the affected towns and cooperate with the U.N. human rights commissioner.
For weeks, the European members of the Council, backed by the United States, had been pushing for a resolution condemning the violence that would have condemned "arbitrary detentions, disappearances, and torture of peaceful demonstrators, human rights defenders and journalists by the Syrian authorities." But Russia, an ally of Syria, wanted no Council intervention of any kind. It was supported by China, which also has veto power in the Council, as well as India, Brazil and South Africa.
Then came the latest reprisals in Hama, the fourth largest city in Syria. About 150 people were reported killed over the weekend and an estimated 1,600 are presumed dead and 12,000 have been arrested since the uprising began four months ago, diplomats said (after closed-door briefings to the Security Council on Monday by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs.)...
While Juan Cole says:
Toothless UNSC Condemnation of Syria shows Russian, Chinese Clout
Posted on 08/04/2011 by Juan The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday issued a “presidential statement,” one step below a resolution, chiding the Syrian government for its violent repression of protests (but also condemning violence by the protesters, which is a little like complaining that Jack the Ripper’s victims tried to scratch him with their fingernails). The statement was hailed as a turning point by French foreign minister Alain Juppe, and defended as an important step forward by US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.
Diplomacy is the art of the possible, and one understands Juppe’s and Rice’s emphasis on the achievement here. But the statement contained no sanctions. So it was toothless. Russia and China are running interference for the Baath regime of Bashar al-Asad, and there is no prospect of them allowing UNSC sanctions on Damascus. So not only does the statement not contain any practical steps, it is unlikely to be followed by any resolution more decisive or robust...
Still, the various positions on Syria in the Russian government are diverse, and some, at least, are taking a genuinely post-Soviet line, condemning the Syrian government’s violence in no uncertain terms.
The Open Source Center translated remarks of Mikhail Margelov, the special envoy for Africa of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which show a high level of ethical commitment and clear, analytical thinking about Syria:..
The USG Open Source Center translates remarks of Russian UN ambassador Vitaliy Churkin on the Syrian crisis: Churkin does not admit the right of Syrians to peaceably assemble for protests, perceives them as violent attackers of the Baath Party status quo, and urges that they negotiate with the government that has mown down some 2000 of them and rolled tanks against them. The old Soviet Union was a major patron of Syria, and the present Russian Federation appears to be interested in picking Syria back up as a client.
World action on the Syrian regime’s crimes depends very much on whether it is Churkin or Margelov who wins the argument inside Moscow.
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