What's In Blue

Posted Mon 1 Aug 2011

Consultations on Syria

Council members will have consultations on Syria at 5 pm at permanent representative level where they will be briefed by Assistant Secretary General Oscar Fernandez Taranco on the events in Syria over the weekend. The briefing was requested by Germany.

It seems that there is strong interest by some members in reaching agreement on a resolution today. Others are still cautious and may want to proceed more slowly. The scale of the violence over the weekend may make a resolution or some other response more likely.

It is unclear if the draft resolution which has been under discussion since May will be revived or if a new draft may emerge. It seems that the earlier draft resolution (most recently discussed on 6 July at expert level) recalls the Syrian government’s responsibility to protect its citizens, stresses the need for accountability, condemns the systematic abuse of human rights including killings, arbitrary detention, disappearances and torture; and calls upon Syrian authorities to: respect human rights and international humanitarian law, act with restraint and refrain from reprisals, and allow unhindered humanitarian access; undertake comprehensive and credible reforms for genuine political participation; release all prisoners of conscience and launch a credible and impartial investigation and cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council’s investigative mission.

The main issue in discussions on the draft resolution seems to have been over the possibility of whether it could lead the Council into more muscular action.

It also appears that the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum ( IBSA ) proposal for a demarche to Damascus has been overtaken by events, whether by reluctance from Damascus or from recent developments over the weekend is unclear.

Media reports indicate that over the weekend approximately 100 civilians were killed in Hama and dozens more in other parts of Syria, bringing the estimated total deaths to approximately 1800 since the beginning of the protests in Syria four months ago. Since June there have been approximately 10,000 refugees fleeing to Turkey and also significant numbers going into Lebanon.

On Sunday, 31 July, the Secretary-General condemned the recent use of force against civilians in Syria and called on the Syrian government to halt the violence. A number of Council members have also reacted publicly to the violence over the weekend. The UK has called for stronger international pressure and indicated that it wants to see a resolution condemning the violence. The US and Germany condemned the violence as did the EU. Russia has publicly called for an end to “repressions” in Syria and said the use of force should be stopped immediately.

It also appears that the US, UK and Russia will be meeting with the Secretary-General this afternoon. While this meeting may have been scheduled before the outbreak of violence in Syria over the weekend it may afford the three Council members an opportunity to discuss the situation with the Secretary-General ahead of the 5 pm briefing and consultations.

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