News / Middle East

Russia, China Veto UN Resolution on Syria

Russian representative Vitaly Churkin vetoes a draft resolution backing an Arab League call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at United Nations headquarters on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
Russian representative Vitaly Churkin vetoes a draft resolution backing an Arab League call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at United Nations headquarters on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

Russia and China have once again blocked an effort by the U.N. Security Council to condemn the on-going violence in Syria. The two powers used their vetoes to defeat a resolution on Saturday that would have also endorsed an Arab League plan to help end the bloodshed.

The Syrian crisis has been a divisive force in the 15-nation Security Council for months. In October, Russia and China both vetoed a resolution condemning the violence.

Saturday’s vote came after weeks and days of tense negotiations and after a night of spiraling violence in Syria. Last minute huddles and phone calls inside the council chamber could not prevent the measure’s failure, despite the 13 votes in favor.

In the end it came down to a few phrases that Russia wanted changed or added, but that the Arab and Western sponsors of the text refused to alter or insert, saying they had made enough concessions already.

Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States was “disgusted” that Russia and China had once again blocked council action on Syria, particularly as the draft resolution had no references to sanctions, an arms embargo or military intervention. She also chided Russia for continuing to sell weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

“For months this Council has been held hostage by a couple of members.  These members stand behind empty arguments and individual interests while delaying and seeking to strip bare any text that would pressure Assad to change his actions.  This intransigence is even more shameful when you consider that at least one of these members continues to deliver weapons to Assad," she said.

The British ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said he was “appalled” at the double veto, saying there was nothing in the text that should have triggered it. “The reality is that Russia and China have today taken a choice: to turn their backs on the Arab world and to support tyranny rather than the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.  They have failed in their responsibility as permanent members of the Security Council," he said.

He told reporters later that he was particularly surprised by China’s vote against the resolution, as they had not expressed any particular concerns about the text during negotiations.

France’s  Ambassador, Gérard Araud, was equally indignant, criticizing Russia and China for obstructing council action and saying history would judge harshly those who did not support the Arab League plan and aligned themselves with a regime that massacred its own people.

But Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that consensus was possible, Moscow just wanted a few more days to negotiate and they were pushed to use their veto because other council members insisted on holding the vote Saturday without giving their proposals due consideration. “We were trying to suggest that we continue our discussions in order to reach consensus, so we were prepared for an extra mile, it was our colleagues who did not accept it," he said.

Churkin acknowledged that “tragic events” are happening in Syria, but said the Security Council is not the only “diplomatic tool on this planet” and he noted that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the foreign intelligence chief are going to Damascus on Tuesday to meet with President Assad.

Syria’s envoy, Bashar al-Ja’afari, continued to blame the violence in his country on armed groups and terrorist gangs that he said are supported by foreign sources and media campaigns in hostile countries.

In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said the U.N. chief “deeply regretted” the failure of the council to act. He said it undermines the role of the United Nations and the international community in this period when the Syrian authorities must hear a unified voice calling for an immediate end to its violence against the Syrian people.

Meanwhile, the death toll continued to mount in the Syrian town of Homs, where activists say the military bombarded the city overnight, killing more than 200 people in one of the bloodiest days since the crackdown began last March.

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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs