Posts Tagged ‘Security Council Press Statement’

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

Friday, June 7th, 2013

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

U.N. Security Council Issues Press Statement on Mali (SC/10878) (including text)

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The United Nations Security Council issued a Press Statement on January 10, 2013 regarding the deteriorating situation in Mali (SC/10878; AFR/2502).

The text of the Press Statement follows:

Security Council Press Statement on Mali

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Mohammad Masood Khan ( Pakistan):

The members of the Security Council express their grave concern over the reported military movements and attacks by terrorist and extremist groups in the north of Mali, in particular their capture of the city of Konna, near Mopti. This serious deterioration of the situation threatens even more the stability and integrity of Mali and constitutes a direct threat to international peace and security.

The members of the Security Council recall resolutions 2056 (2012), 2071 (2012) and 2085 (2012) adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the urgent need to counter the increasing terrorist threat in Mali.

The members of the Security Council reiterate their call to Member States to assist the settlement of the crisis in Mali and, in particular, to provide assistance to the Malian Defence and Security Forces in order to reduce the threat posed by terrorist organizations and associated groups.

The members of the Security Council express their determination to pursue the full implementation of its resolutions on Mali, in particular resolution 2085 (2012) in all its dimensions. In this context, they call for a rapid deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

The members of the Security Council call for the immediate issuance of an agreed political road map, which includes serious negotiations with non-extremist Malians in the north and presses for the full restoration of democratic governance.

The statement has no legal effect, and is in effect essentially meaningless.

The most recent action by the Security Council was the adoption of Resolution 2085 on December 20, 2012. That resolution, which appeared to be hurriedly cobbled together to meet a 45-day deadline contained in a previous Security Council resolution, had a confusing text, no clear lines of command and responsibity, and no clear timeline for international military action to be taken against the insurgents in northern Mali.

See The Trenchant Observer, “U.N. Security Council adopts Resolution 2085 authorizing political, training and military action to restore control over North in Mali; confused resolution launches international bureaucratic and decision-making monstrosity,”
December 21, 2012.

For the latest news reports, see

Associated Press, Mali Seeks French Help Against Extremists,” NPR
News, January 10, 2012 (9:39 PM EST).

Le avec AFP et Reuters. “Le Mali demande l’aide militaire de la France, Le Monde, 11 janvier 2013 (Mis à jour le 11.01.2013 à 08h19).

David Baché. “Mali : les combats reprennent entre l’armée et les islamistes,”
Le Figaro, 10 janvier 2013 (Mis à jour à 19:15).

The situation is complicated by demands to replace the government of transition in Mali, upon which the entire edifice of Security Council Resolution 2085 is based.

France is supposed to respond to the appeal for help from the government of Mali on Friday, January 11. It may be that France has the only military force capable of intervening quickly enough to halt the advance of the rebels from the North. Whether they will choose to do so is an open question.

The manifest defects in Resolution 2085 have now become evident for all to see, under the pressure of impending events. The talk at the time Resolution 2085 was passed was that military action should not be expected before September or October 2013.

The Security Council’s calls for others to act demonstrates how far removed the Security Council has moved from being able to take effective action itself to maintain international peace and security.

The Trenchant Observer

Security Council establishes observer mission (UNSMIS) with 300 officials to monitor implementation of Kofi Annan plan—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #28 (April 22)

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Adoption of Security Council Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012)

On Saturday, April 21, the United Nations Security Council adopted by a unanimous vote Resolution 2043, which establishes for an initial period of 90 days a 300-person observer mission to monitor an end to violence in Syria and full implementation of Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan, as called for in Security Council Resolution 2042 adopted on April 14. See

U.N. Press Release SC/10618 (April 21) on Security Council Adoption of Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012) establishing observer mission of 300 unarmed monitors to oversee compliance with an end to violence in Syria and full implementation of Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan. However, their mandate is to observe, not to protect.

The text of Security Council Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012) is contained in the press statement cited above, and may be found here.

Regarding the April 14 resolution and its adoption, see

The provisional oral record of the April 14 meeting at which the Security Council adopted Resolution 2042 (U.N. Doc. S/PV.6751) is found here.

The official text of Security Council Resolution 2042 (April 14, 2012) (S/RES/2042 (2012) is found here.

The April 21 resolution came two and a half months and thousands of lives after Russia and China vetoed a resolution with similar objectives on February 4, 2012.

The provisional oral record of the February 4, 2012 Security Council meeting (U.N. Doc. S/PV.6711) is found here.

The February 4, 2012 draft resolution (U.N. Doc. S/2012/77) approved by 13 members but vetoed by Russia and China (13-2-0) is found here.

A Euphemism to End All Euphemisms

In a euphemism to end all euphemisms, the Security Council stated the following in the Resolution’s preambular clauses:

Noting the Syrian government’s commitment on 25 March 2012 to implement the six-point proposal of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, and to implement urgently and visibly its commitments, as it agreed to do in its communication to the Envoy of 1 April 2012, to (a) cease troop movements towards population centres, (b) cease all use of heavy weapons in such centres, and (c) begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres, and to implement these in their entirety by no later than 10 April 2012, and noting also the Syrian opposition’s expressed commitment to respect the cessation of violence, provided the government does so,

Expressing concern over ongoing violence and reports of casualties which have escalated again in recent days, following the Envoy’s assessment of 12 April 2012 that the parties appeared to be observing a cessation of fire and that the Syrian government had started to implement its commitments, and noting that the cessation of armed violence in all its forms is therefore clearly incomplete,…”

Well, I guess that is one way to describe the utter perfidy of Bashar al-Assad and the ongoing and wanton commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Syrian government since April 1, and even since the cesefire deadline of April 10.

But in diplomacy and international politics, words count. They count because if we don’t listen to what we are saying, we enter into an Orwellian world in which nothing makes sense and words have lost their meaning.

Let’s read the words again, slowly:

“and noting that the cessation of armed violence in all its forms is therefore clearly incomplete,…(emphasis added)

“Clearly incomplete?”  This is Orwellian language at its greatest heights. It should come as no surprise that it comes from the Russians, who have unparalled experience in the field of propaganda in general, and Orwellian language in particular.  Resolution 2043 was in fact based on the Russian draft.

The euphemism itself is utterly revealing–lighting up the countryside like lightning flashes on a dark and rainy evening, or military flares in night combat.

It illuminates in sharp relief the stark difference between “diplomatic reality” and “diplomatic time”, on the one hand, and the devastating real-world reality represented by the ongoing commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by al-Assad, in real time, on the other.

In the this real-world reality, such crimes have tragic consequences not only for the individual human beings who are killed and wounded, but also for their immediate and extended families. They also have serious moral consequences for the feckless spectators who are in a position to act to halt the atrocities, but do nothing effective to do so.

Individual human lives count.

If we ever lose our belief that this is true, we will be lost, and the horrors of the first half of the 20th century will become not only historical memories, but also future prophecies.

The United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS)

In its key operative provisions, Resolution 243 provides:

“The Security Council

5. Decides to establish for an initial period of 90 days a United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) under the command of a Chief Military Observer, comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component as required by the Mission to fulfil its mandate,

“6. Decides also that the mandate of the Mission shall be to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and to monitor and support the full implementation of the Envoy’s six-point proposal;

“8. Calls upon the Syrian government to ensure the effective operation of UNSMIS by: facilitating the expeditious and unhindered deployment of its personnel and capabilities as required to fulfil its mandate; ensuring its full, unimpeded, and immediate freedom of movement and access as necessary to fulfil its mandate, underlining in this regard the need for the Syrian government and the United Nations to agree rapidly on appropriate air transportation assets for UNSMIS; allowing its unobstructed communications; and allowing it to freely and privately communicate with individuals throughout Syria without retaliation against any person as a result of interaction with UNSMIS;

“9. Calls upon the parties to guarantee the safety of UNSMIS personnel without prejudice to its freedom of movement and access, and stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities;

“11. Reiterates its call for the Syrian authorities to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance and calls upon all parties in Syria, in particular the Syrian authorities, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and relevant humanitarian organizations to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance;

The Resolution also calls for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to report to the security Council on implementation of the resolution every 15 days.

Following adoption of the resolution by a unanimous vote, a number of ambassadors spoke regarding the resolution and the situation in Syria. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice stated the following (according to the summary of her remarks provided in the press statement):

SUSAN RICE (United States) said she was sober about the risks, given the Assad regime’s long record of basic disregard for humanity. Deployment of 300 or even 3,000 observers could not stop the Assad regime from its murderous acts. Only extensive external pressure could bring an end to them. The Syrian Government said it had welcomed observers on the ground, as they would be impartial. Even more so, the Syrian people expected and deserved that the Council stand behind today’s resolution and impose consequences, if the Syrian regime failed to honour its commitments. The regime had unleashed yet another wave of horrific violence against its own people. The use of shelling and heavy weaponry, particularly in Homs, had reached levels that surpassed those registered before the ceasefire. The status of thousands of detainees remained clear. There had been little progress on the issue of humanitarian access. An estimated 1 million civilians were still in urgent need of humanitarian aid. The Council had called on the Syrian Government to take concrete action. The United States’ patience was exhausted.

“Let me be plain. No one should assume that the United States will agree to resume this mission at the end of 90 days if there is not a cessation of violence, full freedom of movement for United Nations personnel and considerable progress on the ground,” she said. Absent that “then we must all conclude that this mission has run its course”. She expressed gratitude for the work of the monitors for embarking on this unprecedented and risky mission. They were going to be responsible for security and would be deployed in the midst of protestors desperate for protection that observers were not mandated to provide. That would give rise to expectations that they were not prepared to meet. All experiences in United Nations peacekeeping over the past six decades showed that there must be a peace to keep. The Syrian opposition said that they wanted the United Nations and hoped that it would have a restraining effect on the Syrian Government, enabling them to act and speak freely. If that did not happen, then the regime must be held accountable. The United States strongly supported full implementation of the six-point plan. “Let there be no doubt. We, our allies, and others in this body are planning for those actions that will be required by all of us if the Assad regime persists in the slaughter of the Syrian people,” she said.

Rice points to a central flaw in the peace monitor scheme.  The monitors cannot stop the atrocities, or even protect people who are being subjected to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The resolution, in effect, sets up a Srebrenice-like situation, where U.N. forces are present, but have no way to protect the population they are sent to observe.

Now Bashar al-Assad may have another month or two, or longer, to play games with the U.N. Observer Mission, while his army and state security officials continue to hunt down opponents to the regime.  Russia is obviously quite happy with this arrangement.  Putin eats Obama’s lunch, again.

The Observer certainly hopes that this does not prove to be the case. But we must all keep our eyes wide open, and focused on what is taking place on the ground. There is a history with al-Assad here, and there are lessons to be learned from this history.

Will Bashar Al-Assad Have to be Taken Down Like a Mad Dog?

With reports of continued fighting on April 23, the thought occurs that it may be that al-Assad will have to be taken down like a mad dog.

See Syria accused of hiding tanks from UN observers
Loveday Morris (Beirut), The Independent, 23 April 2012.

If there is ever a moment when the West and the Arab countries and the international community decide to act to stop al-Assad, they certainly have the means to do so.  The United States, for example, has an armory of cruise missiles which could give Bashar and Maher al-Assad a real wake-up call, on short order.  These steps could be taken without committing to an open-ended military engagement. The U.S. also possesses drones and special forces units, which if ever authorized to do so, could make Bashar al-Assad’s life very complicated indeed.

The legal arguments that would support military intervention in Syria in the absence of Security Council authorization would also appear to justify going after the command and control facilities and assets that are directing the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

See The Trenchant Observer, “Humanitarian Intervention in Syria Without Security Council Authorization—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #24 (April 8),” April 8, 2012, and articles cited therein.

Perhaps it could become so complicated that, if al-Assad wants to avoid Moammar Qadaffi’s fate, he would be well advised to exit the scene now, on the best terms he can get.  They will surely be much harsher in the future.

The Trenchant Observer

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