Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria
Updated: 2012-07-20 14:56
By Zhang Yuwei (China Daily)
Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Thursday that would impose sanctions on Syria's authorities if they did not pull out troops and halt violence in the midst of an uprising in the country.
Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN, says that China supports the Security Council in sending a clear signal about its support for peacefully resolving the Syrian crisis.
But Li said the resolution's text "completely goes against these goals" and "jeopardizes the unity of the Security Council".
In a speech after the vote, Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin called the resolution "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.
This is the third time that Russia and China have blocked resolutions pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the 16-month conflict. Both have stated that they do not support a regime change in Syria.
Thousands of Syrians have died in the uprising. The resolution, drafted by the United Kingdom and backed by Western powers such as the United States, France and Germany, proposed to implement a sixpoint peace plan by Kofi Annan, the UN special envoy for Syria, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Under Chapter VII, which lays out a general plan for the council to maintain peace around the globe, the council gains the right to implement nonmilitary sanctions against the Syrian government.
Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, has signaled long before the vote that it won't support any mention of Chapter VII in a resolution.
"The draft resolution is seriously problematic, with uneven content that is intended to put pressure on only one party in Syria," said Li, adding that the resolution would derail the crisis.
"It will not only further aggravate the turmoil, but also result in spillover of the problem to other countries in the region, undermine regional peace and stability, and ultimately impair the interests of the people in Syria and other countries in the region," he said.
Western states and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon reacted with disappointment to the vetoes. "I had expected that the Security Council and the international community should have been united to send out a strong and united voice to save human lives," he said Thursday.
According to Reuters, Western council members have said they were talking about a threat of sanctions on Syria, not military intervention.
A deadly suicide bombing in the heart of Damascus postponed a potential vote on Wednesday. The attack killed Syria's top officials, including defense minister Daoud Rajha and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's brother-in-law. Both Li and Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei condemned the bombing. Immediately after the bombing, the council had a closed-door meeting to agree on measures to end the crisis.
During consultations on the text of the resolution, Li said, the sponsoring countries failed to show any cooperation and refused to heed the call of China, Annan and other council members for further discussion. Li said several sponsoring countries "pressed for a vote".
The council still has time to negotiate another resolution on Syria for an unarmed UN observer mission, known as UNSMIS, which expires midnight on Friday.
China, Russia, Pakistan and South Africa, have called for a technical resolution that would extend the mission for a short period of time.
The world body in April sent 300 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the ceasefire and support the implementation of Annan's peace plan. The mission, however, was suspended on June 16 due to escalating violence.
Churkin suggested the council adopt a brief, de-politicized resolution on a technical extension of the UN mandate for a specific period of time to see if the observer mission has been useful.