West, UN Call for Strong, Unified Security Council on Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flank U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, center, at United Nations headquarters, March 12, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flank U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, center, at United Nations headquarters, March 12, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

Western leaders repeated their call on Monday for Russia and China to support a strong United Nations Security Council resolution to end the violence in Syria, where scores of people have been wounded or killed daily. The appeal came during a high-level meeting on the impact and opportunities of the Arab Spring, which was overshadowed by the Syrian crisis.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led the call, telling the 15-nation Security Council it is essential that the organization’s most powerful body speak with one voice, particularly in light of the continued "shameful operations" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army.

The United Nations and the Arab League recently appointed former U.N. chief Kofi Annan as a joint special envoy on Syria.  Annan traveled to Damascus recently, holding two days of talks with Assad.  

Ban said his predecessor conveyed "concrete proposals" to Assad, urging him to take steps to immediately end the violence, address the humanitarian crisis and begin a peaceful, inclusive, Syrian-led political process.

"I add my voice to that of Mr. Annan in urging President Assad to act swiftly, within the next few days, in response to the proposals put forward by the Joint Special Envoy.  I appeal to the Security Council to unite strongly behind ending the violence and supporting Mr. Annan’s mission to help Syria pull back from the brink of a deeper catastrophe," Ban said.

Russia and China have used their Security Council veto twice during the past five months to block action against Damascus, saying that the West and some Arab states are seeking regime change in Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Security Council’s silence is not an option in the face of a government’s massacre of its own people, and she urged Moscow and Beijing to support action against Syria.

"We believe that now is the time for all nations, even those who have previously blocked our efforts, to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League.  The international community should say with one voice - without hesitation or caveat - that the killings of innocent Syrians must stop and a political transition must begin," Clinton said.

In a rare rebuke for a close ally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Syrian "authorities bear a huge share of responsibility for the current situation."  He said Moscow wants to see an immediate end to the violence, a cease-fire and access for relief workers.  But Lavrov warned against international action that could escalate the crisis.  He is heard here through a translator:

"Making hasty demands for regime change, imposing unilateral sanctions designed to trigger economic difficulties and social tensions in countries, inducing the opposition to continue its confrontation with authorities instead of promoting dialogue, making calls in support of armed confrontation and even to foreign military intervention - all of the above are risky recipes of "geopolitical engineering" that can only result in the spread of conflict," Lavrov said.

Lavrov said that during his meeting with Arab League ministers on Saturday in Cairo, they agreed to five points for settling the crisis:  the end of violence from all sources, an impartial monitoring mechanism, no outside interference, unimpeded humanitarian access and strong support for Kofi Annan's mission to launch a political dialogue.

The American and Russian chief diplomats met privately on the sidelines of Monday’s meeting.  Secretary Clinton told reporters that she pointed to the Russian foreign minister that the alternative to Security Council unity on Syria is a bloody, internal conflict with dangerous consequences for the entire region.

Britain, which chaired Monday's meeting as Security Council president this month, and France, warned that those who have perpetrated crimes against the Syrian people would not do so with impunity, saying that the groundwork should begin to be prepared for a case at the International Criminal Court.

This forum has been closed.
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
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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