NEW YORK, APRIL 12 – In a dark day for UN diplomacy, Russia vetoed a UN resolution that would have required Syria to cooperate with investigators and face full accountability after a brutal chemical attack in that country. It’s the eighth time Russia has vetoed a proposed Security Council resolution on Syria.
The resolution, crafted by the United States, United Kingdom and France, was circulated to the 15 member countries of the Security Council on Tuesday. The text got ten votes in favor, while Bolivia sided with Russia and China, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan abstained.
Western ambassadors blasted Russia earlier Wednesday for continuing to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his alleged use of sarin on a rebel-held area of his country. Russia replied with anger: “Accepting the draft resolution would be a legitimation of the US missile attack on Syria”, said the Russian representative Vladimir Safronkov. Washington and Moscow “must find a way to work together” to stabilize the situation and support the political process, the United Nations envoy for the war-torn country told the Security Council during an open doors meeting prior to the vote.
In his briefing, Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria added that last week’s reported chemical weapons attack, the subsequent airstrikes by the US and intensified fighting on the ground have put the fragile peace process is in “grave danger.” “This is a time for clear-thinking, strategy, imagination, cooperation,” said Mr. de Mistura.
Italy supported the resolution: “There is no alternative to trying to find common solutions. Italy remains committed to working with the other members of the Council to do so”, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi said after the vote.
Italy had hoped that the unity of the Council would be preserved in ensuring swift action following the latest horrors in the Syrian conflict, Cardi said: “As an elected Member of the Security Council, we feel a special responsibility to live up to the expectations that the UN membership has entrusted us to help maintain international peace and security; responsibility that today we were not able to uphold”.
The Ambassador explained that Italy’s vote meant to express “condemnation in the strongest terms of any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances”, but also support to a full-fledged investigation on the facts in Khan Shaykhun by the OPCW and the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
“We call upon the Syrian government and all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the OPCW and the UN to allow a prompt conclusion of its investigation on this heinous incident”, Cardi said stressing the need to fight impunity. “As long as nobody is held accountable and faces tangible consequence for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the incentive will remain to continue carrying them out”, he said, adding that “it’s deeply disturbing that humanitarian international law, as well as the international non-proliferation architecture, continue to be blatantly violated”. (@OnuItalia)