UN General Assembly
Criticizes Syria, Security Council
August 4, 2012
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a non-binding
resolution that both condemns the Syrian government's use of heavy
weapons in the fight against rebel forces and criticizes the U.N.
Security Council for failing to agree on measures to stem the violence.
The Saudi-drafted measure cleared the assembly on Friday. It expresses
"grave concern" over the escalating violence in Syria and reiterates
calls for a Syrian-led political transition to a "democratic,
pluralistic political system." It also deplores the Security Council's
failure to agree on provisions that would ensure the Syrian government's
compliance with U.N. decisions.
The measure was approved by 133 representatives of the 193-member
assembly, with 12 "no" votes and 31 abstentions.
Russia and China were among the dissenters. The two countries have
vetoed three separate Security Council resolutions threatening tougher
measures against Syria.
Battles Rage in Syria
Opposition activists say security forces and rebels clashed in the
Damascus neighborhood of Tadamun on Friday, in the 17-month-old uprising
against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
They also say government attacks and clashes erupted in other areas of
the country, including Hama and Idlib province.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels took over
a police station in the northern city of Aleppo where government forces
have been pounding neighborhoods in a bid to regain control of rebel
The Britain-based group says at least 25 people were killed in unrest
across Syria, including 12 security officers who died during a four-day
battle with rebels in Deir el-Zour province.
Praise, Criticism for UNGA Resolution
The resolution that cleared the assembly was a watered-down version of a
draft debated earlier in the week.
The measure's Arab sponsors dropped language calling for Mr. Assad's
resignation, due to objections.
However, the resolution still drew strong condemnation from some
countries, including Syria and Russia.
Syria's ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, called the resolution a "piece of
theater." He called its main sponsors, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, "despotic
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin blasted the resolution. It "hides
blatant support to the armed opposition," he said.
The measure drew support from Western countries, including the United
States and France.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said "despite the continued
opposition of an increasingly isolated minority," an "overwhelming
majority" of U.N. members were standing with the Syrian people.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud also welcomed the measure but criticized
the Security Council for a lack of action on Syria.
The U.N. General Assembly vote comes just one day after Kofi Annan
announced his resignation as U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, blaming a
lack of international support and "finger-pointing and name calling" in
the Security Council.
"The increasing militarization on the ground and the clear lack of unity
in the Security Council have fundamentally changed the circumstances for
the effective exercise of my role," he said.
Both the Syrian rebels and the government failed to commit themselves to
Mr. Annan's peace plan for Syria, which included an immediate cease-fire
and talks on a transitional government.