Russia and China were condemned on Thursday for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution to refer the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a probe into possible war crimes, reports the International Business Times (IBT).
The French-backed resolution, which did not specifically target either the government or the opposition, was signed by more than 60 countries and approved by the other 13 Security Council members.
It condemned the "widespread violation" of human rights and international humanitarian law by Syrian authorities as well as abuses and violations by "non-state armed groups" in the last three years.
UN deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson urged council members to find unity and "put an end to this long nightmare", but Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin joked with reporters that he was "going to be boringly predictable", and called the resolution a "publicity stunt".
The veto was the fourth time that Russia and China have protected their ally Syria since the civil war started in 2011.
The last veto came in January, when Russia blocked a UN Security Council statement that would have expressed outrage at the use of missiles and "barrel bombs" by Assad’s forces.
Amnesty International called the vetoes a "callous political move that betrays suffering people in Syria", while Human Rights Watch branded Russia and China's vote for "continued impunity" a "disgrace".
“The resolution would have allowed the ICC to step in to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict,” said Amnesty International.
“A crucial opportunity for justice has been squandered. Once again, Russia and China have abandoned the Syrian people for the sake of salvaging political alliances,” added the organization.
“Not only does this move risk emboldening those who are committing crimes with impunity, but it is yet another sign of how the international community is failing Syrians.”