News / Middle East

Europeans to Push for Syrian Sanctions in UN Security Council

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Aug 17, 2011
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Aug 17, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Margaret Besheer

The four European members of the U.N. Security Council say they will push for a resolution imposing sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The proposed move at the United Nations follows actions earlier Thursday by the United States and Europe calling for President Assad to step down and the imposition of new unilateral measures against his government.

Britain’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Philip Parham said there has been a lack of credible progress by Damascus to stop its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and implement promised reforms, and the time has come to increase international pressure to bring that about.

“Also here in the council, we believe the time has come for the council to take further actions to step up the pressure against those who are responsible for the violence against the citizens of Syria," said Parham. "So we will be working on a Security Council resolution that will include measures to apply that pressure to those who are responsible, and we will be discussing that resolution with our colleagues on the council over the coming days.”

Ambassador Parham would not go into detail about the sanctions, saying he did not want to preempt discussions among the 15 members. But he pointed to European Union imposed sanctions, which include asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo, saying those are the type of measures that will make it more difficult for the regime to continue the violence.

The United States, which on Thursday called for President Assad to step aside and announced new targeted sanctions including against Syria’s petroleum sector, threw its support behind the Europeans. U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo:

“I would like to stress that we support further action in the Security Council through a resolution," said Di Carlo. "More than ever the Security Council should increase pressure on Assad’s regime.”

But it could be a lengthy and difficult process to persuade council members Russia and China not to veto such a measure.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay flew in from Geneva to address the closed meeting. She told reporters afterwards that she recommended the Security Council refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, noting the council is the only body that has the power to do so.

“I also recommended referral to the International Criminal Court because all the evidence produced by the Commission’s report support a finding of widespread and systematic violations of human rights equaling crimes against humanity," said Pillay.

But she said she does not “hold out much hope” that the Security Council will act on her recommendation.

The report she refers to is from a U.N. fact-finding mission and was released Thursday. It cites widespread and systematic human rights violations against civilians in Syria. It includes evidence of over 350 summary executions; the use of torture; the use of tanks, heavy weaponry and helicopters to subdue restive populations; and the presence of mass graves, all of which it concludes may amount to crimes against humanity.

The mission was not allowed into Syria but interviewed 180 people in four countries, including Syria, about grave human rights violations over the past five months.

U.N. Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos also briefed the Council. She said afterwards that Damascus has agreed to allow in a humanitarian mission this Saturday for about three or four days. She said the U.N. has guarantees that there will be full access and the mission would focus on areas where there have been reports of violence so the team could see for itself what has been going on.

President Assad’s government has denied accusations that it is killing peaceful protesters, saying it is fighting armed gangs and foreign fighters who want to overthrow the government.

At the United Nations, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said operations by the Syrian security forces have already stopped.

“It is true," said  Ja’afari. "It is already a fact on the ground. The military and police operations stopped in Syria.”

He added that President Assad has issued 20 reforms since March, but that “some people” are not willing to understand or acknowledge them.

Human rights groups and activists say at least 1,800 civilians have been killed since pro-democracy protests began in Syria in mid-March.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid