Washington — Russia's and China’s veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria that would have imposed Chapter 7 consequences for failing to implement a U.N. peace plan is “dangerous and deplorable,” said U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Susan Rice, and it marks the third time both countries have “prevented the Security Council from responding credibly to the Syrian conflict.”
Speaking at the United Nations in New York July 19, Rice said the resolution would have given political support to the 300-person United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and “given it a fighting chance to accomplish its mandate,” which is due to expire July 20. UNSMIS was deployed to oversee the implementation of U.N. and Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, but it was forced to suspend its monitoring activities in mid-June because of escalating violence.
“The only way that unarmed United Nations observers could ever deter violence is if their reports of the Syrian regime’s persistent violations of the Annan plan and of their own commitments led this Security Council to impose swift and meaningful consequences for noncompliance, as requested, indeed demanded, by our Joint Special Envoy,” Rice said.
Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues to fire heavy weapons against Syrians, detains and tortures its citizens and maintains “a horrific posture of intimidation and harassment,” according to reports from Annan, the UNSMIS team leader and other international officials, Rice said.
“They reported recently that the Syrian regime had escalated its crackdown, employing tanks and helicopter gunships. They reported on various occasions that the Syrian [government]-backed Shabiha militia were terrorizing entire communities, including sexually assaulting women and children,” she said.
Rice said the Security Council “has failed utterly in its most important task on its agenda this year,” and described the outcome of the vote as “another dark day in Turtle Bay.” The states that refuse to take firm action against the Assad regime are at odds with the majority of the Security Council, the League of Arab States, and the more than 100 countries in the Group of Friends of the Syrian people who called for Chapter 7 action.
Their position is also “at odds with the wishes and aspirations of the vast majority of the Syrian people, who deserve so much better from this Security Council,” Rice said.
The July 18 attack in Damascus that killed three members of Assad’s inner circle “is indicative of how the situation in Syria will continue to deteriorate in the face of this Council’s inaction.” The United States will intensify its work with partners outside the Security Council in order to “bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need,” Rice said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with President Obama that the vetoes by Russia and China were “very regrettable,” and that it is “absurd” for the U.N. to send unarmed observers amid the violence and brutality of the Assad regime “if the consequences of failing to live up to ... the Assad regime's commitments are nonexistent.”
China and Russia's decisions will have repercussions for a long time in terms of how they are viewed by the Syrian people "because there is no doubt that Syria's future will not include Bashar al-Assad. His days are numbered, and it's a mistake to prop up the regime as it comes to an end," Carney said.