U.N. security Council “Press Statement” on Syria on June 7–meaningless words, without legal force

Security Council Press Statement on Heavy Fighting in Al-Qusayr, Syria

The U.N. Security Council issued another “Press Statement” on Syria today, June 7, 2013. The text follows:

7 June 2013
Security Council

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Mark Lyall Grant ( United Kingdom):

“The members of the Security Council express their grave concern about the humanitarian impact of the recent heavy fighting in Al-Qusayr.

The members of the Security Council call upon the Syrian Government to allow immediate, safe and unhindered access, in accordance with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, for relevant humanitarian, including UN, actors, to reach civilians in Al-Qusayr, in urgent need of assistance, in particular, medical assistance.

The members of the Security Council call upon all parties in Syria to do their utmost to protect civilians and avoid civilian casualties, recalling the primary responsibility of the Syrian Government in this regard. They emphasize that those responsible for violations of applicable international law will be held accountable.”

Another Meaningless “Press Statement” Lacking Any Legal Force

These press statements are dangerously misleading, because they are reported in the news as the U.N. or the Security Council taking some kind of action, when this is not the case.

The Security Council remains deadlocked on Syria. The fact that diplomats accord even the slightest significance to a Security Council “Press Statement”, which unlike a Security Council Resolution lacks any legal force, simply underlines the extent to which Russia has triumphed again in bringing the focus of attention back to the Security Council, and to the hoped-for Geneva Conference now backed by the U.S. and Russia.

Worth noting is that even the “press statement” made no comment regarding the destruction of al-Qusair by al-Assad and Hezbollah forces, or the very significant escalation represented by the introduction of foreign forces from Lebanon into the conflict.

Falling into the Russians’ Trap, Playing the Russians’ Game

The extent to which the members of the Security Council have fallen into Russia’s trap is underscored by press accounts which attribute significance to the fact that Russia allowed a statement to be released this week, whereas it blocked one last week.

That is where the Russians want the attention of the world: on whether they agree to the inclusion of words in a meaningless press statement or not, instead of focusing on the facts on the ground in Syria, and Russian and Iranian and Hezbollah support with arms and matériel and money for al-Assad and his continuing commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Secretary of State John Kerry either did not do his homework before agreeing to sponsor a second Geneva conference on Syria with the Russians, or else caved into the cynical direction of Obama to sponsor a conference with no prospects of success, which no serious expert who has followed events in Syria over the last two years could have seen as bearing the slightest promise.

The Russians and the Chinese have neutered the Security Council insofar as Syria is concerned.

Instead of following the diplomatic dance of what Russia might accept in a press statement, or even a toothless resolution, or what Bashar al-Assad might agree to in terms of going to a peace conference in Geneva, or even the terms of any agreement (which we know he will not keep, as he has never kept an agreement), the civilized nations of the world would be much better advised to focus on events on the ground in Syria, and to get to work on implementing concrete measures including the supply of weapons and the direct use of force, which might actually halt al-Assad’s commission of war crimes and other atrocities.

The Trenchant Observer

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The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.