What's In Blue

Negotiations on Syria Draft Resolution

It seems Council members will have a further meeting at expert level at 3 p.m. today (Thursday, 22 December) to continue negotiations on a draft resolution on Syria circulated by Russia on 15 December. However, at press time Russia had not yet circulated any revised text reflecting the concerns expressed at the previous round of expert level negotiations held on Monday (19 December).

During Monday’s negotiations, EU Council members and the US apparently proposed changing language which suggested symmetry in violence by the opposition and the government and introduced elements including: stronger human rights references, an explicit call regarding cooperation with the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, the need for accountability and demanding full implementation of the Arab League’s initiative to stop the violence in Syria. It seems some Council members also feel that if there is an arms embargo it should apply to both the government and the opposition. There also seems to be broad support for language in the resolution clarifying no military intervention in Syria is envisaged.

These negotiations are taking place against a backdrop of increasing international pressure on Syria to end its crackdown on protestors which has been ongoing since March. According to the 12 December briefing to Council members by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, the situation in Syria has led to more than 5,000 deaths, 14,000 detained and 12,400 refugees and tens of thousands internally displaced. (On 15 December, Syria transmitted a letter to the Security Council criticizing Pillay’s briefing.)

On Monday, 19 December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the violence in Syria and calling for full implementation of the Arab League initiative.

According to media reports, an advance team of about 30 Arab League observers is to arrive in Damascus today in preparation for a larger mission of approximately 150 to be deployed by week’s end—the mission has a one month mandate. Syria and the Arab League signed the protocol for the observer mission on Monday. (The Arab League had previously suggested upwards of 500 observers.) Syria apparently conditioned the deployment of the mission insisting on a reduced number of observers and on coordination of its activities with the government.

Council members seem to be focused on engaging with Russia on their draft resolution to formulate a unified and credible response. There also remains a desire for close coordination with the Arab League and Turkey vis-à-vis any possible Council outcome on the Syrian situation.

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