Russia, China veto draft UN resolution on Syrian civil war

Updated: 2014-05-23 08:29


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Russia, China veto draft UN resolution on Syrian civil war

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari (R) speaks to Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York, May 22, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, on Thursday wielded veto power over a draft resolution which is intended to refer the Syrian civil war to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The unadopted draft resolution, proposed by France, received 13 votes in favor and two against.

"The draft resolution has not been adopted owing to the negative votes of permanent members of the council," said Oh Joon, the South Korean permanent representative to the United Nations, who holds the rotating council presidency for the month of May.

The Thursday vote at the 15-nation UN body made it a fourth double veto by Russia and China on a West-drafted resolution on Syria.

Syria is not a state party to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, so the only way the Middle East country can be referred to The Hague-based tribunal is by the Security Council.

Under the UN Charter, the adoption of a draft resolution requires nine votes in favor and the absence of a negative vote by any of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

France, another permanent council member, circulated the draft resolution among the council members on May 12 in a bid to refer the Syrian civil war, current in its fourth year, to the ICC for review of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"The Security Council reaffirms its strong condemnation of the widespread violations of human rights law by the Syrian authorities and pro-government militias, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by non-State armed groups, all committed in the course of the ongoing conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011," said the draft resolution.

After the council vote, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN ambassador, said at the Security Council that the vetoed draft resolution, if adopted, would "lay the ground for the eventual outside military intervention" in Syria.

Churkin blamed France, which initiated the draft resolution, for trying once again to "create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict," while "fully aware of the failure it will meet" in the wake of the council vote.

"It is striking that there is not a single word on the political settlement and the negotiation process among the Syrians " mentioned in a communique at the end of the May 15 meeting on Syria in London, he said.

Citing the case of Libya, Churkin said the referral to the ICC would not help resolve the crisis.

The Security Council has previously referred Libya and Sudan's Darfur to the ICC.

"We call on our Western colleagues to abandon the futile, dead-end policy on Syria," he said.

"We share their emotions caused by the crisis in Syria, which has been dragging on for far too long," Churkin said, referring to the countries sponsoring the draft resolutions.

Russia has already voiced its opposition to the referral of Syria to the ICC. On Wednesday, Churkin called a "public stunt" the planned council vote.

The Geneva communique, issued in June 2012 on the principles of accountability and national reconciliation in Syria, will continue to serve as the basis for "the core efforts" to strive for the political solution to the Syrian crisis, he said. "We are convinced that the justice in Syria will eventually prevail."

"Those guilty of perpetrating grave crimes will be punished," he said. "But in order for this to happen, peace is first needed, first and foremost."

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