News / Middle East

2011 Difficult for UN Security Council Unity

The UN Security Council in New York (file photo).
The UN Security Council in New York (file photo).
TEXT SIZE - +
Margaret Besheer

Growing acrimony among the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council is jeopardizing action on serious issues including the council's ability to send a strong signal on the situation in Syria. From the United Nations, Margaret Besheer reports 2011 has been a difficult year for the 15-member council and tensions among the permanent five could make consensus-building in 2012 a challenge.

The different political ideologies of the permanent five members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - have always made for an interesting dynamic on the U.N. Security Council. But this year, relations among the five have frayed over authorization of the NATO mission to protect Libyan citizens and a difference of opinion about events in Syria where the U.N. says more than 5,000 people have died during a government crackdown on political dissenters.

The divisions among the so-called P5 became even clearer this week, when the Russian, American and French ambassadors took to the microphones after a meeting on Libya Thursday.

The Russian Ambassador demanded an independent investigation into the possibility that NATO bombings caused the deaths of some Libyan civilians. His American and French counterparts said he was seeking only to divert attention from events in Syria, an ally of Russia.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters that NATO's actions saved tens of thousands of Libyan lives - an accomplishment she said that should be celebrated - and she chided her Russian counterpart.

"If the Libyans want to work with NATO to investigate any concerns they have, we are more than willing to do that," said Rice.  "I think it is notable that we have not heard that call from the Libyan government. So let us see this for what it is - it is duplicative, it is redundant, it is superfluous, and it is a stunt. And if others want to go along with it they can, but I did not hear a majority of the members of the council indicate they think this is necessary."

Her French counterpart, Gérard Araud, noted that there are already two on-going investigations into how the Libyan crisis played out - one is being conducted by the U.N. Human Rights Council and the other by the International Criminal Court - and he brought the conversation back to Syria.

"There are two on-going investigations, so why ask for a third one while we do not have any investigation committee in Syria when in the last 3 to 4 days more than 250 people have been killed," noted Araud.  "This is a bit strange. So we can say that we have seen today one more ploy."

On Friday, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who is president of the council this month, expressed his frustration with his colleagues at a hastily called news conference. He said the growing acrimony among the P5 is affecting the council's work.

"I am worried. It has been my fifth and toughest presidency. I think that as a council we are not moving in a good direction," Churkin said.  "There is a lot of nervousness, a lot of expectations that things are going to be done my way or no other way. That what I need to have I must have now, no objections entertained or no other views are entertained. I don't think this is a good way to work in the council. I think that if this trend were to continue it might seriously hurt the ability of the Security Council to work."

He said he does not know how to reverse this negative trend and said that even on the smallest issues there have been disagreements.

Some council members say the Libya resolution has had a lasting impact on how some council members approach matters such as Syria and Yemen, making them fearful of directly or indirectly authorizing outside intervention. Other diplomats say it is just a convenient excuse to do nothing.

After Friday's press conference, Ambassador Rice tweeted a friendly holiday message to Ambassador Churkin, but her spokesman tweeted a photo of a storybook character who steals Christmas with the face of the Russian diplomat super-imposed over the character's face.

As 2011 ends on a rocky note, it remains to be seen how the five powers will work together in the new year. Meanwhile, the council's draft resolution on Syria hangs in the balance as negotiations continue in this tense atmosphere.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid