Tangier – On May 22, 2014, the United Nations Security Council was unable to adopt a resolution to transfer the issue of serious human rights abuses in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because Moscow and Beijing both used vetoes to oppose it.
More than 10 days after the Joint UN-League of Arab States Special Representative on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned, there is still a failure at the UN to agree upon a resolution to the ongoing human rights abuses in Syria. After more than two years of tireless diplomatic efforts to come up with a political solution to the heartbreaking civil war in Syria, the Security Council is trying to step forward and change the status quo by referring the issue to another entity.
The failed resolution would have referred the situation to the ICC in order to investigate the serious crimes alleged to have been committed during three long years of bloody conflict in Syria. Although the resolution was supported by 13 members of the UN Security Council, it was blocked by two permanent members, Russia and China.
According to the official United Nations website, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, prior to the vote in a statement delivered on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The Syrian people have a fundamental right to justice. The United Nations and its Member States have a fundamental duty to defend that right.”
He also stated that, “Since the outbreak of the war in Syria, I have persistently called for accountability for perpetrators of grave human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The recent attacks against humanitarian convoys and personnel, which may constitute war crimes, add to the urgent need to see action now on accountability in Syria.” Finally stating, “The Security Council has an inescapable responsibility in this regard. States that are members of both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council have a particular duty to end the bloodshed and to ensure justice for the victims of unspeakable crimes.”
According to The Guardian, the US Ambassador, Samatha Power immediately responded to China’s and Russia’s opposition by saying, “the Syrian people will not see justice today. They will see crime, but not punishment. The vetoes today have prevented the victims of atrocities from testifying at The Hague.”
On February 2013, according to the same source, the UN Commission of Inquiry concluded that the ICC is the appropriate body to closely follow the Syrian crisis and bring those who fight against impunity in Syria to justice.
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson warned that, “If members of the Council continue to be unable to agree on a measure that could provide some accountability for the ongoing crimes, the credibility of this body and of the entire Organization will continue to suffer.”
Sixty-five countries had appealed to all 193 UN member states to agree on the resolution, under which the ICC would be authorized to investigate allegations of the alleged monstrous crimes by the Syrian regime and armed extremist-opposition groups.