News / Middle East

Saudi Arabia Rejects Seat on UN Security Council

FILE - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, left, arrives with an unidentified aid for discussions with Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of EU and five other Arab countries.
FILE - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, left, arrives with an unidentified aid for discussions with Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of EU and five other Arab countries.
Margaret Besheer
A day after winning a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council, Saudi Arabia said Friday it will not take up its seat, citing “double standards” in resolving world conflicts, particularly in Syria.  U.N. officials say is an unprecedented move.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had no other option but to turn down Security Council membership until the 15-nation council is reformed and has the means to accomplish its duties and assume its responsibilities in preserving the world's peace and security.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters he is still considering how to handle the matter.

“I have taken note of the media reports regarding the decision of Saudi Arabia, but I would like to caution you that I have not received any official notification in this regard.  I encourage all member states to fully engage with the principal organs of the United Nations while advancing their efforts to improve their working methods," said Ban.

The announcement shocked many diplomats, especially as Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi had welcomed their election on Thursday.

“We take this election very seriously as a responsibility to be able to contribute through this very important forum to peace and security of the world.  Our election today is a reflection of a long-standing policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes in peaceful means," said Al-Mouallimi.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters Friday he could understand Saudi Arabia’s frustration with the Security Council, particularly on Syria.

“We think Saudi Arabia would have brought a very positive contribution to the Security Council.  But we do also understand the frustration of Saudi Arabia.  The fact is that the Security Council has been unable to act for more than two years.  We have tried repeatedly to move forward.  You know some countries have opposed, repeatedly, vetoes for all of our contributions," said Araud.

Guatemala’s Ambassador Gert Rosenthal said he was surprised by the move and expected that the Asia-Pacific regional group would have to meet to discuss what would happen next.

“This has never happened, as far as I know, it’s never happened.  But probably, if they don’t recant, the regional group will have to come up with an alternative candidate.  If it comes to the GA [General Assembly] endorsed, the GA is going to sign off on it," said Rosenthal.

The next likely step would be that the regional group would have to find and agree upon another candidate to send to the General Assembly for approval, if Saudi Arabia does not change its mind.

During last month’s General Assembly annual debate, Saudi Arabia chose not to deliver its speech, or even hand out a written copy, saying it was in protest of the deadlock within the Security Council on Syria.

But the council did make a breakthrough last month, unanimously agreeing on a resolution aimed at the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons and agreeing on a statement on the need for greater humanitarian access.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid