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Views differ on tough UN resolution on Syria

12-03-2011 15:31 BJT

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The 47-nation UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution criticizing Syria for "gross and systematic violations of human rights." The resolution also establishes the post of a special human rights investigator to probe abuses in the country.

But member countries still disagree on the best way of resolving the crisis. Syria says any UN intervention would simply deepen it. Arab nations, Europe and the US are all backing pressure on President Al-Bashar Assad. Russia and China voted against the resolution, fearing it could lead to a military intervention such as the one in Libya.

Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui
(L) talks with a colleague before a special session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The UN Human Rights Council has urged tougher international action against Syria,
condemning "gross violations" of human rights following evidence security forces
killed and tortured dissidents

With 37 in favour, 4 against and 6 abstentions, the draft resolution was approved by the UNHRC on Friday. It came in response to a statement earlier in the day by the council that Syrian authorities have killed at least 307 children in their crackdown on opposition protesters.

But not all council members agree with the result. Syria’s ambassador in Geneva told the council a solution to his country’s problem could not be found by the international community.

Fayssal Al-Hamwi, Syrian ambassador to UN, said, "I call on all the countries to refuse this biased and failed resolution because the adoption of such a resolution will lead to prejudice to the credibility of this Council and will not in any way be in the interest of the people of Syria and will not help it put an end to its crisis."

Russian Federation ambassador Valery Loshchinin gestures during a special session of
the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of an independent report on Syria
which charts murder and torture by security forces in their crackdown on anti-regime
protesters, at the United Nations office in Geneva

China and Russia have been resisting moves for a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.

The two permanent members of the Security Council have condemned the bloodshed, but refuse further international pressure.

Russia says the document is a one-sided resolution blaming only the government, which veils hint of the possibility of foreign military intervention under the pretext of defending the Syrian people.

Valery Loshchinin, Russian ambassador to UN, said, "This is a one-sided resolution blaming only the government. And at the same time we know how, I would say, anti-governmental forces acted. Military groups and so on."

But the US Ambassador accused the regime itself of stoking the conflict. She says the resolution "sets the stage" for further action by the UN and other institutions.

Elieen Chamberlain Donahoe, US ambassador to the UN, said, "I think that shows two things: Growing international consensus, Assad should go. The Assad regime is complicit in the atrocities. And that there’s no real question about who’s at fault here with respect to human rights violations."

International intervention, such as the NATO action in Libya that helped topple Muammar Gaddafi, is all but out of the question in Syria.

But the European Union, the Arab League, Turkey and others have piled on sanctions aimed at crippling the regime once and for all.

The UN estimates more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since the unrest began in the middle of March.

UN officials say they hope the resolution can help the country from sliding towards civil war.

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