What's In Blue

Posted Mon 25 Jul 2011

Middle East Debate and Syria Developments

On Tuesday, 26 July, the Council will hold its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. It will be briefed by Robert Serry, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. It seems the stalemated peace process will be the main focus of the Council’s discussion. Of particular interest may be the growing expectations for developments in September. (It seems possible that the Palestinians will move forward their bid to upgrade their status at the UN.)

(For more background on the possible application by Palestine for admission to the UN and related issues please see the SCR 25 July 2011 Update Report published today.)

It seems possible that Syria may also be raised by a number of Council members during the debate.

While the Council has not taken up Syria directly this month, there has been considerable activity at the expert level. On 6 July there was an experts level meeting on a draft Syria resolution. (The draft was circulated on 25 May by the UK, France, Germany and Portugal.) There has not as yet been any agreement. It seems that some members are particularly concerned about a resolution because they fear that this could lead the Council into more muscular action. And a Council statement – which requires consensus of all 15 members – is ruled out by Lebanon. On substance, some feel strongly that the Council should avoid being overly prescriptive about how a country should reform itself.

With the difficulties faced in getting agreement on a resolution it seems that various other options including the the possibility of a Special Adviser (along the lines of Jamal Ben Omar for Yemen) who would be appointed by the Secretary-General and could work at promoting dialogue with Syria, and would brief the Council informally are being explored.

The DPA briefing scheduled for the end of the month is another opportunity at which the situation in Syria could be raised.

On 21 July, the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, made a statement on Syria. The Advisers said that the scale and gravity of the violations indicate a serious possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed and may continue to be committed in Syria. They reminded the Syrian government of its responsibility to protect its population and to ensure that security and civilian personnel under government command comply with international human rights obligations.

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