Bloomberg News

Russia’s UN Resolution on Syria Violence Criticized by U.S.

December 16, 2011

(Updates with Russian text starting in third paragraph.)

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Russia introduced a draft resolution today at the United Nations Security Council in response to the violence in Syria, drawing criticism from the U.S. and France.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Washington that the U.S. doesn’t support the resolution because it presents “a seeming parity” between the Syrian government, which has used deadly force against opponents, and “the peaceful protesters and other Syrians who are trying to defend themselves.”

The text, which doesn’t call for sanctions in step with the Arab League, isn’t balanced and the language reflects equivalence of violence by the government and by protesters, French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters at the UN.

The draft “demands that all parties in Syria immediately stop any violence irrespective of where it comes from.”

The Russian initiative, which caught council members by surprise, came soon after news that Syrian army defectors had killed 27 members of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. Russia and China used their vetoes to stop a European- drafted Oct. 4 resolution that sought to pressure Assad to stop killing.

Russia, which sells weapons to Syria, argues that the UN- sanctioned NATO bombing of Libya was abused to bring about regime change and that Western governments were seeking to repeat that scenario in Syria. The draft says “nothing in this resolution shall be interpreted as an authorization of any sort of military action in Syria by anyone.”

Renewed Calls for Action

The Security Council received renewed calls for intervention in Syria this week after the UN’s top human-rights official raised the estimated civilian death toll in the country to more than 5,000. Assad’s government should be investigated for crimes against humanity, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“Ruthless repression” may soon plunge Syria into “civil war,” Pillay said in prepared remarks.

Efforts by the U.S. and Europe to take action against Syria in the Security Council have been blocked by Russia and China as violence has spiraled, raising concerns that it might spread to Lebanon and other countries in the region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the “immoral” position the West has taken on Syria and said it was ignoring violence by the Syrian opposition. Russia continues to think that sanctions are counterproductive, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said today.

Compromise Sought

Clinton, who said she hasn’t read the full Russian measure, said the U.S. and its allies on the Security Council will discuss the draft with the Russians.

“Hopefully, we can work with the Russians who, for the first time, at least are recognizing that this is a matter that needs to go to the Security Council,” Clinton said at the State Department in Washington.

“There are some issues in it that we would not be able to support,” she said, citing the violence parity question.

Clinton said the Russian measure also will be reviewed with the Arab League, which has taken the lead on Syria. The group has postponed a meeting on Syria due to be held in Cairo on Dec. 17, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

--With assistance from Nadeem Hamid in Washington. Editors: Steven Komarow, Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in United Nations at fjackson@bloomberg.net; Nicole Gaouette in Washington at ngaouette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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