Delegates representing members of the United Nations Security Council raise their hands during a vote on the situation in Syria at the United Nations headquarters in New York on July 19, 2012. Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, wielded veto power Thursday over a Western-proposed draft resolution on Syria. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
UNITED NATIONS, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, wielded veto power Thursday over a western-proposed draft resolution, which demands extension of UNSMIS for a period of 45 days, and threatens non- military sanctions by quoting Chapter VII of the UN Charter if the Syrian government fails to pull out troops and heavy weapons from populated areas.
The unadopted resolution received eleven votes in favor, two against and two abstentions.
The draft resolution demands "all parties in Syria, including the opposition, immediately cease all armed violence in all its forms, thereby creating an atmosphere conducive to a sustained cessation of violence and a Syria-led political transition."
It further indicates that if the Syrian authorities have not fully complied with the above requirement within ten days, the Council "shall impose immediately measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter."
The Article 41 of the Charter gives the Council right to employ economic and diplomatic sanctions -- not involving the use of armed force -- to give effect to its decision and may call member states to apply such measures.
"The United Kingdom is appalled by the decision of Russia and China to veto this draft resolution," said Mark Lyall Grant, British permanent representative to the UN. "For our part, we shall continue to work with the Envoy, the Secretary-General and responsible members of the international community to achieve the political transition which is the only way forward for Syria."
Russia remains opposed to any threat of sanctions against Syria in fear of unilateral sanctions sending the conflict-plagued country into a civil war.
In explanatory speech after the vote, Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin called the resolution just voted on "biased".
"The sanctions leveled exclusively at the Syrian government, counter the spirit of Geneva's document and does not reflect the reality in the country today," he said.
Churkin noted that the draft presented by his country is meant to bring the members of the Council together, further back UN-Arab League Joint Envoy Kofi Annan's plan and to extend the mandate of UNSMIS.
"We believe that the continued confrontation in the Security Council to be useless and counterproductive," said Churkin, adding that for this reason Russia would not submit its own draft for a vote.
Churkin also suggested the Council adopt a brief, depoliticized resolution on a technical extension of UNSMIS' mandate for a specific period of time with a view to "preserving the useful potential" of the mission.
The Security Council is due to decide the future of the UNSMIS by July 20 when the mission's initial 90-day mandate expires. The Council approved in April 300 unarmed military observers to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and to monitor and support the full implementation of Kofi Annan's six-point plan to end the conflict in Syria. However, the mission has suspended most of its activities owing to an intensification of armed violence across the country.
"It is important to continue to call on the international community to back the special envoy's work on settling the crisis in Syria," Churkin said.
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that it "utterly failed" on Syria. "We will intensify our work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need," she said.
China slammed the vetoed draft as "seriously problematic" with uneven content that is intended to put pressure on only one party in Syria and insisted that the draft further seriously eroded international trust and cooperation on the Syrian issue.
"The draft resolution jeopardizes the unity of the Security Council," said Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN. "It is even more regrettable that, under circumstances when parties were still seriously divided and there was still enough time for continued consultation, the sponsoring countries refused to heed the call of China, some other Security Council members and Special Envoy Annan for further consultation until a text acceptable to all parties is formed, and pressed for a vote on the draft resolution."
"China is strongly opposed to such practice," said Li, who reiterated that China has no self interest in the Syrian issue.
"We have all along maintained that the prospect and destiny of Syria should be independently determined by the Syrian people, rather than imposed by outside forces. We believe the Syrian issue must be resolved through political means, and military means would go nowhere," Li said.
DAMASCUS, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Syria's state-media said government troops have inflicted hefty losses to armed groups in the Damascus neighbourhood of Qaboun on Thursday.
Unspecified large number of armed men were killed in the military crackdown, said SANA news agency, adding that the armed men started to burn the bodies of foreign fighters, so their bodies would not be identified. Full story
UNITED NATIONS, July 19 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Thursday expressed his disappointment at the Security Council's failure to adopt a western-proposed resolution that would have threatened sanctions on Syria, owing to the negative votes of permanent members Russia and China.
"The secretary-general deeply regrets that the Security Council has been unable to agree on a resolution today to address the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria," said a statement released here by his spokesperson. Full story