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UN Prepares to Condemn Syria

The United Nations is preparing to condemn Syria for its murderous crackdown on protests against the Assad regime.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 6/9/2011, 2:01 PM / Last Update: 6/9/2011, 3:55 PM

UN.org

The United Nations is preparing to condemn Syria for its murderous crackdown on protests against the Assad regime.

Although it took several rewrites, the four European members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, France, Germany and Portugal) on Wednesday presented a new resolution demanding an “immediate end to the violence.” Earlier language submitted primarily by Britain was unacceptable to Russia and China, even after it was subsequently tweaked for their benefit. Although Russia has recently done what it can to protect Syria, analysts say it is unlikely that Moscow will veto a vote on this resolution; at most, Russia might abstain. The same is likely to hold true for China.

The resolution currently “condemns diplomatic human rights abuses,” and “calls on Syrian authorities to immediately lift the siege of affected towns,” according to British Ambassador to the U.N., Mark Lyall Grant. “It calls for steps to address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, which include reforms that will allow general political participation, inclusive dialogue and effective exercise of fundamental freedoms,” he told reporters after the session.

A vote on the resolution is expected by the weekend. A veto by any of the five permanent members of the Security Council – the U.S., Russia, China, France or Britain – would nix it.

Syria thumbed its nose at recent sanctions imposed by the United States and by the European Union, claiming the measures were illegal according to international law and unacceptable in diplomatic terms. Canada imposed its own sanctions as well.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have urged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court at The Hague because of reports that children have been killed by government forces. Evidence has also been received from Syrian and other activists of what may crimes against humanity carried out by same.

U.N. officials have expressed concern over reports of torture, the use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters and shelling of homes by government forces across the country. There have been reports by some human rights groups that as many as 1,300 people have died to date in what appears to be developing into a bloody civil war.