News / Middle East

Britain Wants UN Resolution on Syria

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.
Selah Hennessy
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

  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, Syrians search under rubble to rescue people from houses that were destroyed by a Syrian government warplane in Idlib province, August 30, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, smoke rises after explosives were dropped by a Syrian government warplane in Idlib province, August 30, 2013.
  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, U.N. investigators gather potential evidence in a Damascus suburb, August 28, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen shows Syrians moving a man who was allegedly exposed to chemical weapons to show him to U.N. investigators in a Damascus suburb, August 28, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen shows U.N. investigators in a suburb of Damascus, August 28, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters carry their weapons as they escort U.N. vehicles carrying chemical weapons experts at the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, August 28, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters deploy in Aleppo's town of Khanasir after seizing it, August 26, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters inspect munitions and a tank that belonged to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after they seized Khanasir, August 26, 2013.
  • A U.N. chemical weapons expert gathers evidence at site of an alleged poison gas attack in a southwestern Damascus suburb, August 26, 2013.
  • An image grab taken from a video posted by Syrian activists purportedly shows a U.N. inspector speaking to a man in a Damascus suburb, August 26, 2013.
  • U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where wounded people affected by a suspected gas attack are being treated, in a southwestern Damascus suburb, August 26, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: David
August 29, 2013 1:49 PM
One just needs to look at the tenure of Kofi Annan previously UN Secretary General and examine his comments on Syria and his ultimate resignation. The UN is simply rendered ineffective by VETO votes of Russia, China and other countries when it comes to decisive action, as is the case now with Syria. Expecting the UN to approve an appropriate military sanction will just never happen. The Syrian Government and others responsible for atrocities, should appear at the Hague to drive home the lesson, that gross humanitarian transgressions, shall be punished appropriately.

by: JohnWV from: USA
August 29, 2013 7:11 AM
Syria killed a few hundred with chemical weapons. Israel, our "inseparable ally," ghettoized over a million and killed hundreds of times more than Syria, often with chemicals (white phosphorous) and other internationally illegal weapons. The scourge of the Mid-East is Israel, not Syria.

by: Anonymous
August 28, 2013 4:31 PM
The world must arm the FSA to protect their country from Assad and any foreign groups. This is a MUST. As soon as Assad is captured / detained, some foreign group will try and steal his seat. That seat is best for the FSA which consists of many many many Syrian Army Personal who defected becaus they refused to murder their own civilians by orders of Bashar al Assad and they wished to protect their homeland. The FSA should of been armed heavily long ago and this war could of been a lot shorter with a lot less destruction. Still to this day Assad is commiting war crimes by bombarding civilian populated areas (Non-Combatants). If Putin and China feel this is "Okay" then the people of Russia and China need a reality check of who is governing their countries and what may be in store for themselves someday. Anyone who aids a criminal, generally is considered a criminal also.

by: Petros Ndlovu
August 28, 2013 1:30 PM
Never truer words said, "The UN must live up to its responsibilities on Syria" Just ironic that the same words were never applied and upheld with regard to Zimbabwe and the Gukuruhundi campaign.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 28, 2013 11:53 AM
Britain does not need a security council resolution to go do whatever in Syria. The seemingly spirited determination to do something is just a ploy not to be seen as standing aloof. In face of veto power-wielding Russia who have vowed to defend Syria with the last blood, where will David Cameron pass to reach a resolution? China is only calm because Russia is taking up all the fighting, but we know that it will not allow a punishment on Syria by whatever means, itself being repressive like Russia and Iran.

The right thing to do is use avenues where Britain's power can be of effect. The EU is a better option. As it seems, all EU member states reject the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on the populace. Most of the EU member states also were involved in the creation of the modern Syrian state, alongside the Ottoman new kingdom of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon etc., and as such should have enough support to go back there to show some anger as a sign of rejection of Assad's crime against his people. The earlier colonization out there left much to be corrected. This provides another opportunity to do just that.

Islamist totalitarian oligarchy cannot be ideal for Syria. The people of Syria are asking for freedom which is not possible under Assad's regime or the Opposition as presently constituted. Egypt has been a good benchmark to measure success of islamist democracy. It was a failure. To ensure the mistake of Egypt is not repeated in Syria, this chemical attack provides the avenue for multinational forces to enter the scene, remove the Assad regime, dislodge the Opposition, and then establish a true democratic governance test-run or tailored to western democracy. If this opportunity fails, then Syria will not be anything better than Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan where all efforts made to install democracy failed not because they do not hold elections, but because they only bring old wine into new wine skin.

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