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).
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

Afghan Government Says Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

update President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms Omar died in 2013, although Taliban sources continue to deny reclusive leader has been dead for more than two years More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs