By Ahmad Azizi*
By Ahmad Azizi*
Morocco World News
New York, 24 August 2011
In a new significant escalation of the mounting international pressure on the Syrian government following its brutal crackdown on the five-month-old popular uprising in Syria, the Western members of the United Nations Security Council have put forward a draft sanctions resolution that would impose arms embargo on Syria as well as asset freeze and travel ban on key Syrian government and security figures.
By the text, which was circulated among the Security Council’s 15 members earlier this week and obtained by Morocco World News, the Council would strongly condemn continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force, the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and torture of detainees, and would call for an immediate cessation of all violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians. It would also call for free political dialogue to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s population.
The proposed text includes several provisions that go significantly beyond the draft previously submitted by the European members of the Council in May. That text faced stiff opposition at the time from Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The new text would impose a ban on the supply of arms to Syria as well as export of arms from Syria.
It would impose asset freeze and travel ban on individuals and entities responsible for violent repression against the civilian population in Syria and commission of serious human rights violations. A new subsidiary committee of the Council as well as a panel of experts would be established to monitor such sanctions.
More than twenty prominent Syrian government officials and security figures are named in an annex to the text, including President Assad himself, his brother Maher, who has led the brutal violent campaign against protest, and his cousin Rami Makhlouf, who has come to be a symbol of the corruption of the regime and a main financier of it.
The draft resolution was discussed in an “informal consultations” meeting of the Council on Tuesday, where members have expressed concern about the escalating violence in Syria while expressing their previously stated positions. Russia and China have once more echoed their opposition to the adoption by the Security Council of any resolution regarding the situation in Syria.
But unlike their outright refusal of any debate in the Council of the Syrian issue, because it was “an internal issue”, Russian and Chinese opposition to the engagement by the Security Council is not marked this time by high-profile rejection of the last draft resolution and is not accompanied by statements to that effect by high-level officials.
On the other hand, Brazil, India and South Africa, who have been making diplomatic efforts towards a resolution of the crisis in Syria through dialogue, are facing a tougher time opposing the draft Security Council resolution this time after the recent visit of high-level diplomats from those countries to Damascus has been fruitless in the face of Assad’s insistence on relying on a security solution.
The latest draft resolution comes at a time that the international community, in particular the United Nations is increasingly critical of the Syrian regime’s actions against the peaceful demonstrations taking place in Syria since last March. Last Monday, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in replying to questions from journalists, said that President Assad has not made true on his promise to the UNSG that all military operation have ended throughout Syria.
Last Thursday, the Security Council heard a briefing during consultations from Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in which Amos described humanitarian access issues and plans for a humanitarian assessment mission by her office, which is now on the ground in Syria. Pillay presented preliminary findings of the commission of inquiryinto the violence in Syria, which was commissioned by the Human Rights Council on 29 April.
But more significantly, Pillay told the Council that actions committed by Syrian authorities and their security apparatus could amount to crimes against humanity and warrant referral to the International Criminal Court.
The resolution would become a significant escalation in the engagement by the Security Council, which has thus far been largely silent on the developments in Syria due to differences among its members.
Last March, two consecutive resolutions by the Council were a crucial factor in rallying international action in support of the popular revolution in Libya, which has eventually led to the fall of the regime of that country’s strongman, Moammar Qaddafi.
Editing by Samir Bennis.
*Ahmad Azizi is Morocco World News’ analyses editor.