The United Nations Security Council continues to sink lower and lower in an effort to find language acceptable to all members condemning the Syrian government’s ruthless massacre of its unarmed citizens. Meanwhile, under the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called a “reformer,” more than 1000 civilians have been killed to date.
Rather than confront directly the evil of mass murder imposed by the Syrian regime, the latest draft resolution proposed by the United Kingdom “calls upon all sides to act with utmost restraint.” This moral equivalency between the acts of government forces and protesters was an attempt to win over Security Council members such as India who complained that there were “armed extremists among the protesters” and wanted the council to condemn the demonstrators as well.
The draft resolution does little to bring international pressure to bear on the Syrian regime. Instead, it reportedly declares that the “only solution” is a “Syria-led political process.” Apparently, some members of the UN Security Council still believe that the “reformer” side of President Assad will show up sooner or later.
According to a report by Inner City Press, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) threw an additional monkey wrench into the drafting process. The OIC issued its own statement on May 22, 2011 calling upon the Syrian security forces to show restraint and to refrain from targeting innocent civilians. But the OIC objected to including, with attribution, a quote in its own words critical of the Syrian regime in the UN Security Council resolution. The resolution authors removed the OIC language from the most recent draft circulated to the Security Council members for their review.
Even this latest watered-down, moral-equivalency-version of the resolution is meeting resistance from Russia and a possible veto. The following is a transcription by Inner City Press of comments made on the latest draft by Russia’s Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin:
Amb. Churkin: No, because we’re not persuaded it can establish dialogue and reach a political settlement to put an end to violence in Syria. We are concerned it may have an opposite effect.
[Questioner]: Russia’s been pretty strong all along, so you’re basically saying — I don’t want to put words in your mouth — that this is a veto situation?
Amb. Churkin: You know, someone else made even before us our position. It is exactly as I’ve described it to you now. We don’t think this helps.
While the Security Council did not hesitate to refer members of the Libyan regime to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution, nothing of the sort is presently contemplated for the leaders of the Syrian regime. When asked at a press conference held on June 8, 2011 at UN headquarters in New York whether he would recommend a referral of Syrian authorities for possible prosecution for human rights violations, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, demurred. He had no jurisdiction to investigate in the absence of a formal Security Council referral, he said, because Syria is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court.
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