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Syria resolutions fail at UN Security Council

By HONG XIAO at the United Nations | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-04-12 04:29

The United Nations Security Council didn't adopt competing resolutions on Tuesday that would have established a mechanism to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and send a fact-finding mission to the war-torn country.

Had one of the two proposed mechanisms passed, it could have filled the vacuum left when the mandate of the Organization for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism expired last November.

The US' draft resolution, which would have established a new investigative mechanism for one year as well as identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, was rejected as Russia voted against it.

The emergency meeting of the Security Council was in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on Saturday in Douma, a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, which reportedly killed 49 people, including children.

Of the 15 members of the Security Council, 12 voted in favor, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting no. China abstained.

To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by either Russia, China, France, the UK or the US.

Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while many in the US, UK and France have called for his ouster.

Tuesday's meeting marked the 12th time that Russia has used its veto to block council action on Syria.

Similarly, a draft resolution by Russia, which would have established the mechanism for one year as well but would have given the Security Council the responsibility to assign accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, also was not adopted.

Six council members voted in favor (Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Russia), seven against (France, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden, UK and United States), and there were two abstentions (Cote d'Ivoire and Kuwait).

The council rejected a third draft – also proposed by Russia – that concerned the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission.

The draft received five votes in favor (Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Russia), four against (France, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States), and six abstentions (Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru, and Sweden).

"The norms against chemical weapons must be upheld. I appeal to the Security Council to fulfill its responsibility and find unity on this issue," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said earlier this week. "I also encourage the council to redouble its efforts to agree on a dedicated mechanism for accountability."

Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said the Russian text contained several positive elements, including improved working methods and steps for carrying out a robust investigation and impartial evidence collection. As those elements were in line with China's principle position, it had voted in favor of the text and regretted that it had not been adopted.

Wu said China remains highly concerned about the situation in Syria and believes all council members should support a Syria-led and Syria-owned political solution to the conflict.

"China always calls for respecting the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria," Wu said. "We insist on seeking a peaceful solution to the dispute. We oppose the use of force or threat to use force in international relations."

xiaohong@chinadailyusa.com

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