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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid