Arab governments are considering this afternoon whether to press the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a sweeping resolution condemning the escalating violence in Syria and endorsing the Arab League's proposal for a political transition in Syria, and asking U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to appoint a special envoy for Syria.
The move comes less than a week after Russia and China cast a double veto blocking the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution supporting an Arab plan calling on President Bashar al-Assad to yield some powers and to establish a government of national unity headed by a figure acceptable to the government and opposition.
A draft resolution under consideration by Arab ambassadors this afternoon calls on the U.N. to reinforce the Arab League efforts to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and to provide technical and material assistance to an Arab league observer mission in Syria.
The draft strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities." It demands Syria "cease all violence and protect its population," release all political prisoners, withdraw all Syrian forces cities and towns, and "guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations." It also demands that Syria "allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States' institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place."
Late Thursday, the president of the U.N. General Assembly Nasser Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, told governments that he would convene a General Assembly session on Monday to review a report on Syrian rights abuses by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. He also invited the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to brief the council on the matter.
The Arab League foreign ministers, meanwhile, are planning to meet Sunday in Cairo to discuss their next steps on Syria at the United Nations. They are expected to announce their support for a vote at the General Assembly on the new resolution, drafted largely by the Saudis, which includes much of the same language in the U.N. Security Council resolution vetoed by Russia and China last week.
The resolution "fully supports the League of Arab States' 22 January 2012 decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system."
The initiative appears calculated to highlight Russia and China's isolation at the United Nations, by moving to a body where they lack veto power to block action.
In Moscow, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said his government would seek to block any action at the U.N. aimed at nudging Assad from power. "If our foreign partners don't understand that, we will have to use strong means again and again to call them back to reality," the Associated Press quoted him telling ITAR-Tass news agency.
Full text of the resolution after the break.
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The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 66/176 of 19 December 2011, as well as Human Rights Council resolutions S/16-1, S/17-1 and S/18-1,
Expressing grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in Syria, in particular the ongoing human rights violations and use of violence by the Syrian authorities against its population,
Reaffirming the role of regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security as set out in Chapter VIII of the Charter,
Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the principles of the Charter,
Reaffirming that all Member states of the United Nations should refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State or act in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,
Welcoming the engagement of the Secretary-General and all diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the crisis,
1. Commends the League of Arab States for its efforts in promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, and welcomes in this regards the League of Arab States' Action Plan of 2 November 2011 and its subsequent decisions, including its decision of 22 January 2012
2. Strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protestors, human rights defenders, and journalists, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children;
3. Calls upon the Syrian government to immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians, protect its population, fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law and fully implement Human Rights Council resolutions S-16/1, S-17/1, S-18/1 and its resolution 66/176, including by cooperating fully with the independent international commission of inquiry;
4. Condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and calls upon all parties in Syria, including armed groups, to immediately stop all violence or reprisals in accordance with the League of Arab States' initiative;
5. Stressing again the importance to ensure accountability and the need to end impunity and hold to account those responsible for human rights violations, including those that may amount to crimes against humanity,
6. Demands that the Syrian government, in accordance with the Plan of Action of the League of Arab States of 2 November 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012, without delay:
(a) cease all violence and protect its population;
(b) release all persons detained arbitrarily due to the recent incidents;
(c) withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks;
(d) guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations;
(e) allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States' institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place; and
(f) allow full and unhindered access to the League of Arab States' observer mission;
7. Fully supports the League of Arab States' 22 January 2012 decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States' auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States;
8. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with the League of Arab States' observer mission, in accordance with the League of Arabs States' Protocol of 19 December 2011;
9. Calls upon all Member States to provide support to the Arab League initiative, as requested;
10. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance;
11. Requests/Invites the Secretary-General to provide support to the efforts of the League of Arab States, including its observer mission, both through good offices aimed at promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, including through the appointment of a Special Envoy, as well as through technical and material assistance;
12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution, in consultation with the League of Arab States, within 15 days of its adoption.
Longtime Washington Post correspondent Colum Lynch reports on all things United Nations for Turtle Bay.