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
    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

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora