Tuesday, October 4, 2011
The UN Security Council considered a resolution today that strongly condemned the Syrian Government's violent response to pro-democracy protesters in that country. Nine of the fifteen UNSC members voted in favor of the resolution - a sufficient majority for it to pass. However, China and Russia both exercised their veto power to halt adoption of the resolution.
According to a UN Press Release:
"Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his country did not support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but the draft resolution would not promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis. He said the issue was not a question of wording, but “a conflict of political approaches” on how to end the crisis."
Mr. Churkin further asserted that "the majority of Syrians wanted gradual political change, rather than quick regime change, and the text also did not adequately take into account the behaviour of extremist groups in opposition to Syrian authorities."
The UN Press release also describes China's position as follows: "China’s Ambassador Li Baodong said that while his country was highly concerned about the violence in Syria, the text as it stood would only complicate existing tensions. He said the draft was overly focused on exerting pressure on Syria, and included the threat of sanctions, which would not resolve the situation."
Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari of Syria took the position that the draft resolution "reflected the biased attempts of some Western countries to undermine his country’s authorities. He said the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Syrian people had been misused by some domestic groups, with the support of foreign elements, to provoke external intervention."
UN sources estimate that 2,700 people have been killed in Syria since mid-March when the protest movement began. Senior UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly voiced concern about the situation.