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Britain Wants UN Resolution on Syria

  • Selah Hennessy

Britain's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, right, and the Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Nick Houghton leave 10 Downing street following a national security meeting at Dow ning Street in London, Aug. 28, 2013.

Britain's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, right, and the Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Nick Houghton leave 10 Downing street following a national security meeting at Dow ning Street in London, Aug. 28, 2013.

Britain will introduce a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that authorizes "necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria. The move comes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Security Council members to take a united stand on the Syrian crisis.

The resolution will be presented to the five permanent members of the Security Council at a meeting in New York.

Taking to the micro-blogging site Twitter, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.N. should “live up” to its responsibilities on Syria.

Speaking in The Hague on Wednesday, the U.N. secretary-general said Security Council members must act together on this issue:

“Syria is the biggest challenge of war and peace in the world today," he said. "The body entrusted with maintaining international peace and security cannot be missing in action. The council must at last find the unity to act. It must use its authority for peace."

Ban said it is essential to “establish the facts” based on evidence the U.N. finds in Syria, and he called for world powers to “give peace a chance.” A U.N. team in Syria is checking the sites where poison gas is reported to have been used against civilians.

Activists say hundreds of people died and more than 1,000 were injured by chemical agents last week in and near Damascus. Rebel forces and the government deny any involvement in the attacks; each side blames the other for violating international bans on such deadly tactics.

Iain Scobbie, a professor of international law at the University of Manchester says Ban hopes to draw the focus to the United Nations and away from Western plans for a possible military intervention.

“He’s trying to uphold the authority of the U.N. to make sure that that is the collective way that things like force are used, rather than having individual member states do what they want in contravention of the procedures and practices of the U.N.,” said Scobbie.

The Security Council's five permanent members - China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain - all have veto power over joint resolutions.

Russia, Syria’s main ally, and China have repeatedly blocked previous resolutions sanctioning the Syrian government for its tactics in the two-year-long civil war.

Scobbie says it is unlikely Britain’s draft resolution will pass, but the move is a necessary step.

“If the resolution is vetoed, or if it does not pass, the question will automatically arise: why did they go for one in the first place? I think [it's] quite clear they needed to go for one because they need one legally,” he said.

Other legal experts have suggested Western powers do not need Security Council backing to justify military action

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