The United Nations Security Council has reverted to its usual modus operandi: inaction. On April 27th, after receiving a detailed report by the UN’s Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, on the violence unleashed by the Syrian government against its own people, the council members were unable to agree on a simple press statement calling on the Syrian government to stop its brutality.
In his briefing to the Security Council, Pascoe noted that the anti-government demonstrations in Syria had started in mid-March, following the detention of fifteen schoolchildren in Deraa for anti-government graffiti, and gradually increased in geographic scope and participation. The protests began with demands for greater freedom and political and economic reforms and eventually included calls for the regime’s downfall. The Syrian authorities had reacted with a mix of ‘reform’ gestures, and increasingly violent repression. Despite the promise of reform, the government crackdown had dramatically intensified, Pascoe reported. As a result, more than 100 persons were killed across the country from Friday April 22nd to Sunday April 24th alone, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Pascoe went on to say that the overwhelming majority of protests had been peaceful, but there were also credible reports of a very few instances where protesters had used force, resulting in some deaths of security forces. Despite the Syrian government’s attempt to place the blame for the violence entirely on the protesters’ shoulders, however, Pascoe said there were no reports suggesting that violence from the protester side was a recurring phenomenon.
The Security Council members listened to Pascoe, but the result was pre-ordained. Under Security Council rules, all fifteen members must approve in order for a press statement to be issued in the name of the council. In this case, Lebanon refused to go along with any press release for fear of offending Syria.
While Russia and China expressed caution in light of the interventions in Libya and the Ivory Coast under Security Council auspices that they believed went too far, Security Council sources have told UN reporters that Russia and China were at least willing to negotiate the wording of a press statement. However, the Lebanese UN ambassador reportedly had instructions from his government not to agree to any Security Council press statement, knowing that the unanimity rule would protect Syria from any official Security Council criticism.
Pages: 1 2