Russia, China veto Syria resolution; India votes in favour

Russia and China vetoed a new UNSC resolution that would have slapped new sanctions against Syrian President`s regime.

Updated: Jul 19, 2012, 22:54 PM IST

New York: Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a new UN Security Council resolution that would have slapped new sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s regime, while India was among the 11 countries that voted in favour.

Reacting to the outcome of the voting, India termed as "regrettable" the failure of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on Syria that would have threatened sanctions against Assad`s regime.

India`s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said it was "regrettable that the Council has not been able to adopt the resolution today and send a joint message that was sought by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan”.

"In our view, it would have been preferable for the Council members to show flexibility so that a united message could be conveyed to all sides to the Syrian crisis instead of pursuance of domestic interests," Puri said in his explanation on the vote.

India was among the 11 countries that voted in favour of the resolution. Pakistan and South Africa abstained. The resolution could not be adopted as Russia and China, both permanent members of the Council, voted against it.

The resolution had sought to put sanctions against the Syrian regime if Assad did not stop using heavy weapons against civilians and withdrew troops from towns and cities.

The resolution, proposed by Britain, France, Germany and the United States, would also have extended the UN`s observer mission in Syria for 45 days.

The mandate for the UN`s 300-man observer mission in Syria expires tomorrow.

The resolution had sought to put UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan`s six-point peace plan under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the council to authorise actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention.

The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.

Puri said India remains "gravely concerned" at the events unfolding in Syria that have resulted in the deaths of several thousands of civilians and security force personnel.

"From the beginning of the crisis, we have called for cessation of violence in all its forms and by all sides. We condemn all violence irrespective of who its perpetrators are," he said.

He said India voted in favour of the resolution today to "facilitate a united action" by the Security Council in support of the efforts of the Joint Special Envoy Annan.

The resolution supported the extension of the mandate of the UN mission in Syria and the implementation of the six-point plan in their entirety.

India called on all Council members to reconsider their approach and ensure that the mandate of the UN mission is extended and Annan`s peace plan is supported so that the Syrian crisis is resolved without any further bloodshed.

"We remain committed to engage with fellow Council members to this end," he said.

India also expressed condolences to the government and people of Syria on the terrorist attack in Damascus yesterday that caused the deaths of a number of high officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Dawood Rajha.

Puri said India strongly condemns "this mindless and cowardly act of terrorism”.

Puri said India had voted in favour of the resolution in the UN General Assembly that authorised the appointment of an Envoy to engage with the Syrian parties and foreign actors for the resolution of the crisis.

India has also consistently supported Annan`s mission and other UN resolutions in expectation that the establishment of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria will be able to oversee the implementation of Annan`s six-point plan and facilitate cessation of violence and commencement of a Syrian-led political process to address the grievances of the Syrian people and meet their legitimate aspirations.

"Unfortunately, all parties have failed to comply with their obligations under the six-point plan. Instead of a political process, parties have continued to pursue a military approach that continues to cause death and destruction in the country," Puri said.

He said there was an urgent need for the Syrian parties to recommit themselves to the complete cessation of violence and comprehensive implementation of the six-point plan.

Noting the complexity of ground realities in Syria, Puri said it is necessary to retain the presence of the UN mission to bear impartial witness to events and also assist the Syrian parties at all levels in their search for a solution of the crisis without any further bloodshed.

The presence of the mission is also necessary to facilitate the implementation of the six-point plan that are the only viable processes for the engagement of the international community in the resolution of the Syrian crisis.

"We have, therefore, been supporting action by the international community that addresses the Syrian crisis in a balanced and impartial manner," he said.

Noting that Syria has been an important country in the Middle East both historically and in current times, Puri said prolonged instability and unrest in Syria would have ramifications for the entire Middle East region.