|Wang Min (C), China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, votes against a Security Council draft resolution on Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York, on May 22, 2014. Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, on Thursday used their veto power over a draft resolution intended to refer the Syrian civil war to the International Criminal Court (ICC). (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
UNITED NATIONS, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, on Thursday wielded veto power over a draft resolution which is intended to refer the Syrian civil war to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The unadopted draft resolution, proposed by France, received 13 votes in favor and two against.
"The draft resolution has not been adopted owing to the negative votes of permanent members of the council," said Oh Joon, the South Korean permanent representative to the United Nations, who holds the rotating council presidency for the month of May.
The Thursday vote at the 15-nation UN body made it a fourth double veto by Russia and China on a West-drafted resolution on Syria.
Syria is not a state party to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, so the only way the Middle East country can be referred to The Hague-based tribunal is by the Security Council.
Under the UN Charter, the adoption of a draft resolution requires nine votes in favor and the absence of a negative vote by any of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
France, another permanent council member, circulated the draft resolution among the council members on May 12 in a bid to refer the Syrian civil war, current in its fourth year, to the ICC for review of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"The Security Council reaffirms its strong condemnation of the widespread violations of human rights law by the Syrian authorities and pro-government militias, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by non-State armed groups, all committed in the course of the ongoing conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011," said the draft resolution.
After the council vote, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN ambassador, said at the Security Council that the vetoed draft resolution, if adopted, would "lay the ground for the eventual outside military intervention" in Syria.
Churkin blamed France, which initiated the draft resolution, for trying once again to "create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict," while "fully aware of the failure it will meet" in the wake of the council vote.
"It is striking that there is not a single word on the political settlement and the negotiation process among the Syrians " mentioned in a communique at the end of the May 15 meeting on Syria in London, he said.
Citing the case of Libya, Churkin said the referral to the ICC would not help resolve the crisis.
The Security Council has previously referred Libya and Sudan's Darfur to the ICC.
"We call on our Western colleagues to abandon the futile, dead- end policy on Syria," he said.
"We share their emotions caused by the crisis in Syria, which has been dragging on for far too long," Churkin said, referring to the countries sponsoring the draft resolutions.
Russia has already voiced its opposition to the referral of Syria to the ICC. On Wednesday, Churkin called a "public stunt" the planned council vote.
The Geneva communique, issued in June 2012 on the principles of accountability and national reconciliation in Syria, will continue to serve as the basis for "the core efforts" to strive for the political solution to the Syrian crisis, he said. "We are convinced that the justice in Syria will eventually prevail."
"Those guilty of perpetrating grave crimes will be punished," he said. "But in order for this to happen, peace is first needed, first and foremost."
Also speaking at the council after his vote, Wang Min, the deputy Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, said that China "has serious difficulties" with the draft resolution.
"What is most urgently needed now is to urge the government of Syria and opposition to immediately start a ceasefire and end violence so that the third round of the Geneva negotiations can be resumed to push forward the political process and start the political transition," Wang said.
Little progress has been achieved at the two round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva in February this year. The international community is striving for the third round of negotiations in order to bring an end to the Syrian conflict, which has reportedly left some 150,000 Syrian people dead over the past more than three years.
"Under the current circumstances, to forcibly refer the situation of Syria to the ICC is neither conducive to building trust among all the parties in Syria, or to the early resumption of the negotiations in Geneva, it will only jeopardize the efforts made by the international community to push forward the political settlement," he said.
"We believe that at a time when there is a serious divergence of views concerning the draft resolution among all sides, the Security Council should continue to hold the consultations, rather than forcibly push for a vote on the draft resolution, so as not to undermine the unity in the council or obstruct the coordination and cooperation in the council in dealing with the questions such as Syria and other major serious issues," he said.
The Thursday vote came just days before international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is scheduled to step down on May 31.
"It is clear in this case that no side in this tragedy is innocent," said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who was addressing the Security Council on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
China says passing Syrian issue to ICC now harms efforts for political solution
UNITED NATIONS, May 22 (Xinhua) -- It will jeopardize the international efforts to push ahead with resolving the long-drawn Syrian crisis via political means if the issue of Syria is referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) forcibly under current situation, said a Chinese envoy Thursday.
Wang Min, the deputy Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, made the remarks after UN Security Council's meeting where Russia and China, two permanent members of the Council, vetoed a draft resolution intended to refer the Syrian civil war to the ICC Thursday morning. Full story