U.N. Still Stupefied on Syria

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The United Nations Security Council continues to sink lower and lower in an effort to find language acceptable to all members condemning the Syrian government’s ruthless massacre of its unarmed citizens. Meanwhile, under the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called a “reformer,” more than 1000 civilians have been killed to date.

Rather than confront directly the evil of mass murder imposed by the Syrian regime, the latest draft resolution proposed by the United Kingdom “calls upon all sides to act with utmost restraint.” This moral equivalency between the acts of government forces and protesters was an attempt to win over Security Council members such as India who complained that there were “armed extremists among the protesters” and wanted the council to condemn the demonstrators as well.

The draft resolution does little to bring international pressure to bear on the Syrian regime. Instead, it reportedly declares that the “only solution” is a “Syria-led political process.” Apparently, some members of the UN Security Council still believe that the “reformer” side of President Assad will show up sooner or later.

According to a report by Inner City Press, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) threw an additional monkey wrench into the drafting process. The OIC issued its own statement on May 22, 2011 calling upon the Syrian security forces to show restraint and to refrain from targeting innocent civilians. But the OIC objected to including, with attribution, a quote in its own words critical of the Syrian regime in the UN Security Council resolution. The resolution authors removed the OIC language from the most recent draft circulated to the Security Council members for their review.

Even this latest watered-down, moral-equivalency-version of the resolution is meeting resistance from Russia and a possible veto. The following is a transcription by Inner City Press of comments made on the latest draft by Russia’s Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin:

Amb. Churkin: No, because we’re not persuaded it can establish dialogue and reach a political settlement to put an end to violence in Syria. We are concerned it may have an opposite effect.

[Questioner]: Russia’s been pretty strong all along, so you’re basically saying — I don’t want to put words in your mouth — that this is a veto situation?

Amb. Churkin: You know, someone else made even before us our position. It is exactly as I’ve described it to you now. We don’t think this helps.

While the Security Council did not hesitate to refer members of the Libyan regime to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution, nothing of the sort is presently contemplated for the leaders of the Syrian regime. When asked at a press conference held on June 8, 2011 at UN headquarters in New York whether he would recommend a referral of Syrian authorities for possible prosecution for human rights violations, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, demurred. He had no jurisdiction to investigate in the absence of a formal Security Council referral, he said, because Syria is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court.

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  • sandra

    Why does Israel continue to call on the UN for support or, attempt to defend their actions when they are condemned? They continue to give this organization legitimacy. I know the choice not to recognize the UN's authority rather than its present action, may seem like suicide but, I would rather fight to take the noose off from around my neck, than to attempt to defend myself to those who find me guilty because I breathe.

  • Fred Dawes

    All just part of the plan.

  • aspacia

    The UN has been outed for its antiJewish stance and hypocrisy many times. It members simply shrug their shoulder, continue illegally lining their pockets with kickbacks from the oil rich states, and resort to lying about their activities and what Israel does.

    This is body is worthless and should be kicked out of our land.

    • johnnywoods

      If the Palestinians manage to smuggle a suitcase nuke into Israel and detonate it killing 100,000 Israelis the "rocket scientists" at the U.N. would doubtless find a way to blame the Jews for it. Ban Ki-Moon could not find his backside with a hay rake. I don`t understand why we keep funding those fools and idiots or why we continue to allow them to operate on American soil. Send them packing to a wonderful place like Uganda and see how they like it there.

  • tagalog

    The U.N., with the Syria circumstance, has once again, for the umpteenth time, proved that it is interested more in posturing than it is in actually doing anything substantive to improve the world.

    Based on its performance since the Korean War, that is probably a net good thing.

  • None are so blind

    The world doesn't see what is happening in Syria. Maybe it is because they have problems with their eyes…

    But it can't be because the world told me they went to an excellent Western educated, reformer, peace loving ophthalmologist!
    What was his name… Let me see… I think it is Bashar.

  • Ghostwriter

    It seems that the U.N. has little interest in helping the people of Syria or improving it's image in this country by proving that it will do something concrete about what is going on over there. It's proving itself to be a lazy organization that's more interested in attacking Israel instead dealing with tyrants.

  • crackerjack

    How can the UN support Israel in "defending borders" the UN does not recognize? In UN resolution 497, the UN regarded Israel's "Golan Hights Law" as "…null and void…".

    The UN and ALL member states exept Israel view Golan as Syrian territory. So going by the FACTS, Israel is shooting syrians on Syrian soil.

    Lets wait and see what excuses Israel will find not to hand Golan back to to a future democratic syrian administration supported by the West and all others involved. We all know the issue here is water, so may the games begin.

    • MixMChess

      It's obvious crackerjack can't even pretend to understand international law. :-(

      UN Resolution 497 is a chapter VI resolution which has no binding or legal effect under international law – essentially chapter VI resolutions are merely viewed as a "suggestions" and take hold no legal authority and are not binding on the party or parties involved.

      The FACTS are clear, on December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to LEGALLY ANNEX the Golan Heights. The statute "extended Israeli civilian law and administration to the residents of the Golan, replacing the military authority that had ruled the area since 1967."

      Following the Knesset's approve of the law, Professor Julius Stone of Hastings College of the Law wrote the following: “There is no rule of international law which requires a lawful military occupant, in this situation, to wait forever before [making] control and government of the territory permanent….Many international lawyers have wondered, indeed, at the patience which led Israel to wait as long as she did."

      Of course, the annexation law does not prevent future negotiations over this territory with the Syrians. In fact, Israel has stated its willingness to trade some or all of the Golan so long as Syria agrees to normalize relations and sign a peace agreement.

      Even assuming crackerjack's false premise that the annexation unrecognized, the Golan is still Israeli territory under International Law and UN resolution 242 (which by the way, is the only UN resolution and international legal authority that governs this territory). Under 242, Israel may retain territory (here the Golan) as a "safe and RECOGNIZED BOUNDARY" to be "free from threats or acts of force." Thus, under 242 this is considered ISRAELI TERRITORY (even pending any final negotiated settlement). Israel is defending herself from paid Syrian marauders and terrorists attempting to infiltrate ISRAELI TERRITORY to murder Israeli civilians and children.

      So crackerjack, would you care to describe to the group how it feels to be intellectually stomped? :-)

      • crackerjack

        UN Resolution 242 –

        (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

        (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." [3]

        UN Resolution 497-

        "the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect" (section 1).

        get in back in touch with REALITY MixMChess. You're operating in a realm of fantasy and wishfull thinking.

        • MixMChess

          What intellectual prowess on display by crackerjack! You simply pasted two UN Resolutions! Too bad your feeble mind can't understand the legal implications behind these resolutions. But, since I'm feeling nice today, I'll give you law lesson free of charge. :-)

          UN Resolution 242 is the only UN resolution that governs the territory of the Golan, which established the "principles that were to guide the negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement."

          The two clauses cited taken together do not require Israeli withdrawal as a prerequisite for Arab action. Moreover, it does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up. The Security Council did not say Israel must withdraw from “all the” territories occupied after the Six-Day War. This was quite deliberate. In fact, the Soviet delegate wanted the inclusion of those words and said that their exclusion meant “that part of these territories can remain in Israeli hands.

          It was repeatedly declared that the resolution did not require Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. In fact the British Foreign Secretary (who helped draft the resolution) told the House of Commons the withdrawal envisaged by the resolution would not be from “all the territories.” When asked to explain the British position later, Lord Caradon said: “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.”

          Similarly, U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg explained: “The notable omissions — which were not accidental — in regard to withdrawal are the words ‘the’ or ‘all’ and the ‘June 5, 1967 lines’…the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.”

          The dispute with Syria is over the Golan Heights. Israel has repeatedly expressed a willingness to negotiate a compromise in exchange for peace; however, Syria has refused to consider even a limited peace treaty unless Israel first agrees to a complete withdrawal. Under 242, Israel has no obligation to withdraw from any part of the Golan in the absence of a peace accord with Syria.

          So 242 confirms my earlier positions (and clearly refutes yours) that under 242, Israel is not required to withdraw from the Golan and may continue to occupy, administer and even legally annex the territory. Golan is ISRAELI TERRITORY (unless of course, a final peace can be established with Syria in which the lands can be traded as part of a final negotiated settlement).

          As already stated, resolution 497 has NO LEGAL EFFECT (its a Chapter VI resolution – which means its non-binding and merely "suggestive") and does not govern the status of this settlement. Even if Israel's annexation of Golan were (incorrectly) unrecognized, Golan is still currently Israeli territory under 242.

          Looks like you got stomped again, huh crackerjack? :-(

    • ebonystone

      "Lets wait and see what excuses Israel will find not to hand Golan back to to a future democratic syrian administration …."
      If Israel is to wait for a "democratic Syrian administration" before handing back Golan, they'll have a very long wait indeed.

      • crackerjack

        As soon as Assad is gone, the Syrians will have Western support in building a new, more progressive administration. Then it will be up to israel to explain why the Golan Syrians are to be exempt from this process.

        • Dan

          Ahh the operative word…"Progressive Administration" … A progressive caliphate maybe ?

        • MixMChess

          Israel has repeatedly stated a willingness to trade parts or all of the Golan with Syria in exchange for peace agreement. In fact, in 2000 Ehud Barak offered all of the Golan to the Syrians in exchange for peace. It's obvious Israel wants peace. The Syrian regime just uses Israel as propaganda. Syria is obviously only interested in murdering Israelis and its own people (just look at the torture of the 13 year old boy last week). What is so difficult to understand about that crackerbrain?

        • jpl

          You are posing a question based on a future event that is hardly likely. Why not pose a question–or answer one–on how the Assad family has managed to be the Corleone family of Syria, oppressing its own people (and in good standing among the Arab world.) Really, it the Golan what's created the victims of 4 decades of dictatorship?

  • elihew

    Prophecy about Damascus (Syria)
    [17:1] The oracle concerning Damascus.
    “Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city
    And will become a fallen ruin.
    (Isaiah 17.1.).

  • crackerjack

    This "Oracle" is a waste of time…………….

    that prophecy is almost 2500 years old and Damascus is still going strong.

  • Amused

    LOL….one does not need an oracle to see that Syria will never make peace with Israel , nor will it's bedroom buddies in Iran . So forget about the Golan , it will remain part of Israel . Is that what you think ? Democracy will change Syria's intentions and thus Isreal will simply defer to what ? crakerjack , you're a bigger dreamer than elihew and his scriptures .

  • Cynic

    UNSC resolution 338
    “Calls upon all parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts;

    Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire, negotiations start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.”

    makes 242 binding.
    But of course there are those including Western diplomats who don’t wish to see certain international agreements carried out but reneged on such (Obama and his interpretation of the legality of West Bank settlements – heh, no doubt his knowledge of 242 is as scant as that of the Constitution) as the League of Nations decisions. San Remo Conference and Sevrès agreements which were incorporated into the UN on its founding.

    Just as well that the Israelis didn’t accept a piece of scribbled on paper as a peace agreement in light of what we are seeing in Egypt now.

  • Dan

    you are joking, aren't you?