4 October 2011 – According the United Nations press release: «China and Russia today vetoed a draft resolution in the Security Council that had strongly condemned Syrian authorities for their violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters this year and called for an immediate end to human rights abuses. Nine of the Council’s 15 members voted in favour of the draft text, there were two vetoes, and four countries abstained. A veto by any one of the Council’s five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – means a resolution cannot be adopted.»
The AFP mentioned that the resolution received four abstentions from Lebanon, India, South Africa and Brazil. Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said ” The Russian delegation has exerted all possible efforts since the beginning to reach a positive respond by the Security Council with regard to the events witnessed in Syria….we along with China forged a draft resolution in which we referred to the national sovereignty and the non-interference in Syria’s affairs including the military interference, in addition to calling for avoiding any confrontations and holding dialogue to achieve the civil peace and the national interest and to enhance the political and social life in Syria.” He added “The best way to get out of the crisis is to reject the provocations and to hold dialogue among all the Syrian parties…Russia continues its contacts with Damascus and it calls upon the Syrian authorities to be fast in making the changes and to release all the detainees who didn’t commit any criminal acts, in addition to holding dialogue with the opposition.”
In his speech at the UN Security Council, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Bashar al-Ja’afari, said “The unprecedented hostile language used in the statements of some ambassadors against my country and its political leadership stressed that Syria is targeted by its enemies due to its principled stance and not due to any humanitarian reasons…This language also reveals the biased policy adopted by some Western countries and their leadership due to Syria’s independent political stances.” He added that the Syrian leadership has immediately responded to the just popular demands as President Bashar al-Assad announced the comprehensive reform program and the Government started to implement it through a package of laws that enhance the democratic process and expand the participation of the citizens in the political and the economic process regardless of the foreign stances.
For his part, China’s UN Ambassador, Li Baodong, said “We call on the Syrian parties to reject all forms of violence, and we hope that the Syrian Government will implement the reforms soonest possible…The international community should provide a constructive help to facilitate the accomplishment of these goals, and we expect the complete respect of Syria’s sovereignty and independence.”
For her part, U.S Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice expressed her disappointment regarding the Security Council’s failure in adopting a resolution against Syria. Behind the Russian and Chinese vetoes of a U.N. resolution on Syria were not only serious differences over President Bashar Assad’s crackdown against civilians but concerns that even threatening sanctions might lead to a repetition of the NATO bombing campaign in Libya. «The result is that nearly seven months after the uprising against Assad began, the U.N.’s most powerful body remains deeply divided and unable to adopt a legally binding resolution to address the violence in Syria that by U.N. estimates has claimed more than 2,700 lives» said the United Nations officials.
The four European nations that sponsored the Syria resolution — Britain, France, Germany and Portugal — tried to gain Russia and China’s support. They also specified that any sanctions could not be enforced by military action. But when the text was sent to Moscow for review, word came back that it was unacceptable, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations were private. No one would speculate on what happened in the Kremlin that led to the rejection of the resolution. But the veto provoked strong rebukes from the U.S. and Western European countries and human rights groups. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called claims that the resolution would be a pretext for military intervention “a cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people.” Syrian allies Russia and China reportedly remain major arms suppliers to the Assad regime. In reply, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin strongly objected to the allegation, “especially coming from a country (The United States) which is pumping hundreds of billions of dollars of military hardware into the area.”
Remember: May 2001 – the United States imposed sanctions on Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and six senior Syrian officials for human rights abuses over their brutal crackdown on anti-government protests. The White House announced the sanctions on Wednesday 18 May, a day before Barack Obama, the US president, was to deliver a major speech on the uprisings throughout the Arab world with prominent mentions of Syria. The sanctions were part of “an effort to increase pressure on the government of Syria to end its violence against its people and begin transitioning to a democratic system,” a US official told the AFP news agency on the condition of anonymity. Also, the European Union put 13 Syrian officials on its sanctions list in what it described as a move to gradually increase pressure.
Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, said his country would not support any UN resolutions on the use of force against the Syrian government. “As for a resolution on Syria, I will not support such a resolution even if my friends and acquaintances ask me about it” Medvedev told reporters during a rare news conference arguing that Syria must be allowed to settle its domestic affairs.