Bloomberg News

UN Action on Syria Sought in Main Assembly to Avoid Russia Veto

November 18, 2011

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Qatar and Saudi Arabia support a European initiative at the United Nations that circumvents Russian opposition and asks Syria to comply with an Arab League ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed.

The Arab League today gave Syria three days to comply or face economic sanctions. The European-drafted UN resolution distributed later in the day “strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities” and calls for implementation of the league plan “without further delay.”

Resolutions in the 193-member body are much easier to pass because they are non-binding and usually require a simple majority. By contrast, resolutions through the Security Council, which has the power to inflict sanctions, are tougher to obtain because there are five veto-wielding nations in the 15-member body.

In a rare double veto not seen since 2008, Russia and China knocked down an Oct. 4 United Nations resolution in the Security Council that called for Assad to halt the crackdown that began in March and, by UN estimates, has killed more than 3,500 people.

“This is no substitute for Council action,” said German Ambassador Peter Wittig. “We still see a need for the Council to live up to its responsibilities and we expect that Council members don’t easily dismiss the strong voices from the region.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in United Nations at fjackson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brendan Walsh at bwalsh8@bloomberg.net


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