News / Middle East

UN Security Council Attempts to End Its Syria Paralysis

Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari shows a document to reporters at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Sept. 12, 2013.
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari shows a document to reporters at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Sept. 12, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
As the United States and Russia discuss a possible diplomatic route for Syria to give up its chemical weapons, the matter ultimately may land at the U.N. Security Council. Consensus may be difficult for a Council that has been deeply divided over the Syrian conflict.

The five powers on the 15-nation Council have been unable to agree to any action on Syria's civil war for more than two years, with three resolutions having been vetoed by Russia and China.

Security Council president for September, Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan, said discussions between the U.S. secretary of state and his Russian counterpart this week in Geneva are very important for ending the Council’s paralysis.

“We all know that the stalemate on Syria has been within the P5 - the permanent members of the Council. We need to break the stalemate, and in order to break it, obviously these kinds of discussions that are under way are necessary, are essential in fact, to bring the sides closer together and to see if we do have a viable, enforceable basis, in fact, for having a solution in respect of Syria’s chemical weapons programs,” said Quinlan.

Clouds on horizon

There already are signs there, however, of difficulty ahead in the Security Council. Russia has said it will not accept a U.N. resolution that references the U.N. Charter's Chapter 7, which allows the use of force, if Syria does not comply. Quinlan said Russia also has indicated it has an alternative text that it may present.

Richard Gowan of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation says he thinks the U.S. will accept a resolution without a Chapter 7 reference only if Russia provides very concrete guarantees that it will make the process work.

“I imagine the Western powers will accept a relatively weak resolution at this time in the expectation that if [Syria's President Bashar] Assad does not play fair, they can come back and table a much tougher resolution in a month or two months’ time,” he said.

Carne Ross, a former British diplomat and head of Independent Diplomat, an advisory firm that counts the Syrian National Coalition among its clients, said a Council decision that does not include Chapter 7 would be “meaningless.” He said there must be conditions and consequences.

“There have to be clear commitments, there have to be deadlines, there has to be rigorous monitoring. If these elements are not in there, then I do not see much chance for agreement,” Ross said.

On Thursday, the U.N. confirmed it had received a document from the Syrian government signaling its intention to join the chemical weapons convention.

The Century Foundation’s Jeffrey Laurenti said Syria’s announcement that it is willing to declare its chemical arsenal and sign the Geneva Convention prohibiting use of such weapons could lead to the quick deployment of U.N. inspectors into the country and possibly remove the need for the threat of use of force in a Council resolution.

“This in itself will presumably be sufficient to assure the government does not launch any more chemical weapons attacks,” he said.

Draft resolution underway

The French, British and Americans are drafting a resolution that could be the starting point for negotiations among the five permanent Council members. Their working draft is reported to include language condemning the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities; demanding the government declare within 15 days the locations, amounts and types of items related to chemical warfare; and imposing sanctions on violators.

The draft also is reported to refer the situation in Syria since 2011 to the International Criminal Court.

Gowan said that is one element that is likely to be quickly compromised away.

“It is absolutely clear that the reference to the International Criminal Court is a gambit that has been put there and will fall out very fast," he said. "I think that to be credible, you would need a reference to sanctions or even the use of force as a response to non-compliance by the Syrian regime. But Russia is not going to allow that.”

Analyst Laurenti said that while the immediate U.S. goal is to stop the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, its greater challenge will be to end the war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

On this, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been very clear, saying this week that the collective failure to prevent atrocities in Syria will remain a heavy burden on the standing of the United Nations and its member states. He said he hopes the talks on safeguarding Syria’s chemical weapons will lead to the Security Council playing an effective role in promoting an end to the Syrian tragedy.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid