The U.N. and Double Standards

Treading lightly on Syria while stomping on Israel.

After more than four months of silence regarding the ongoing civilian massacres in Syria that have taken at least 1600 lives, the United Nations Security Council finally issued an insipid "Presidential Statement" last week condemning "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities." Such statements are nothing more than feel-good declarations that have no legal effect. Syria's buddies on the Security Council - Russia and China - have made sure that no binding resolutions against Syria would pass.

Lebanon, currently one of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, showed its status as a satellite state of Syria and Iran when it disassociated itself from the Presidential Statement. Although not blocking the reading of the Presidential Statement, which requires unanimous consent, Lebanon nevertheless voiced its displeasure:

Today more than ever the Lebanese stand by Syria and its sovereignty and the council’s statement does not help improve the situation there, that’s why Lebanon is dissociating itself from the statement.

Lebanon has a point that the Security Council's statement does not help improve the situation in Syria, but not for the reasons that Lebanon was espousing. The statement not only reaffirmed Syrian national sovereignty - an implied rejection of any international interference along the lines of the Security Council-approved military action in Libya to save civilians from Qaddafi's forces. The statement also displayed the UN's typical strain of moral equivalency. Lending credence to the Assad regime's claims that the rebels were inciting violence against the state, the Security Council called on "all sides to act with utmost restraint, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions." Consider that in Libya, by contrast, the NATO-led coalition is actually attacking Libyan state institutions on the rebels' behalf with the Security Council's blessing. Apparently, the Security Council is still recognizing the legitimacy of the Assad regime by opposing any rebel attacks against the state apparatus Assad is using to kill the protestors while giving free reign to NATO to take down the Qaddafi regime altogether.

In fact, the Security Council even paid homage to "the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform," and concluded that the problem was simply one of faulty "implementation."

The Security Council statement contains no indications of possible consequences if the Assad dictatorship does not stop its atrocities. That's because there will not be any consequences, thanks to Assad's protectors on the Security Council. All that the statement calls for is an update to the Security Council by the UN Secretary General.

For starters, the update will presumably include mention that at least 24 people were reportedly killed on Friday alone during demonstrations against Assad. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon got so worked up about the latest mounting violence that he even called Assad over the weekend to tell him to stop the use of military force against civilians immediately. Assad will pay about as much heed to this latest call for restraint as he has to all of the previous entreaties that he has ignored.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, tried to put a positive spin on the Security Council statement. She said during a conference call briefing after the statement was read that it was “important and strong” and represented "a clear and unified condemnation." She discounted the significance of Lebanon's disassociation from the statement to the overall "unity" displayed in issuing the statement at all. Of course, when one plumbs the depths of the lowest common denominator to achieve a bland, meaningless "consensus" document, some semblance of unity can be achieved. In this case, in order to achieve the sought-after unity, a call for a "credible and impartial" investigation of human rights violations in Syria had to be first removed from the final text.

While the Security Council was playing around with its statement on Syria, the United Nations continues to stomp on Israel. In addition to the UN Human Rights Council's obsession with persecuting Israel for alleged human rights violations while letting real human rights abusers off the hook, the UN has been busy paving the way for the Palestinians to pretend that they can become an independent state without negotiating in good faith with Israel.

As reported by Anne Bayefsky, editor of EyeontheUN, a provisional list of speakers for the opening session of the General Assembly in September lists the speaker from “Palestine” as “H.S.” or Head of State.  Since the Islamic bloc of states and their allies constitute an automatic General Assembly majority, the General Assembly will very likely pass a resolution this fall recognizing the Palestinians' claims to an independent state along the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

It is true that a Security Council recommendation is technically required first before a General Assembly resolution to admit a new self-declared Palestinian state as a UN member state would have any legal effect under the UN Charter. Thus, assuming the Obama administration vetoes such a Security Council recommendation (certainly not a foregone conclusion), a decision by the General Assembly to approve its own resolution anyway recognizing an independent Palestinian state would be of only symbolic importance. However, if a sizable number of European states, including particularly France, vote in favor of a General Assembly resolution endorsing international recognition of Palestinian independence along the pre-1967 borders, Israel will be even further isolated in the international community.

Thus, while the United Nations does nothing to effectively isolate and delegitimize the brutal Assad regime, it is enabling the Islamists to achieve their propaganda objective of isolating and delegitimizing Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East.