Russia Proposal Raises Hope of UN Action in Syria

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 3:20 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Russia has proposed a new stronger United Nations resolution on the violence in Syria, lifting hopes of U.N. action as the fighting intensifies and concerns of a civil war heighten.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, Thursday circulated the draft U.N. Security Council resolution. The measure condemns the violence by all parties in Syria, but stops short of calling for sanctions.

The proposed resolution comes as Syrian activists report that Syrian army defectors killed 27 soldiers in apparent coordinated attacks that are some of the deadliest since the nine-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began.

Western powers welcomed Russia's proposal, but said it is not strong enough on Mr. Assad and his government.

Despite the criticism, Churkin says Russia is willing to work with the other members of the 15-member security council to find a resolution.

“With regard to the need to stop violence, with regard to the need to uphold human rights, with regard to expediting reforms and especially we believe it is important to give a strong message to the Arab League that we encourage them to continue their efforts and of working together with the government of Syria and to carry out its plans to deploy the monitoring mission in Syria.”

Russia and China have blocked earlier resolution efforts.

Churkin says the proposal “considerably strengthens all aspects” of Russia's previous text.

Western members of the council are pushing for sanctions and say the text is insufficient. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is not acceptable, but that it can be the basis for negotiation.

“But we're going to study the draft carefully…and 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.”

Churkin says the text urges the Syrian government to put an end to suppression of those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Russia's ambassador to the UN stressed that nothing in the resolution shall be interpreted as an authorization of any sort of military interference in Syria by anyone.

The U.N. estimates that some 5,000 people have been killed in the nine-month uprising. But Syria's U.N. ambassador has rejected that figure as “incredible.”