Posts Tagged ‘Sergei Lavrov’

U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 2118 establishing regime for the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Department of Public Information, News and Media Division (New York), “Security Council requires Scheduled Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2118 (2013), U.N. Doc. SC/111, September 27, 2013.

Resolution 2118 builds on the Russian-U.S. Agreement on Chemical Weapons reached by foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry in Geneva on September 13, 2013.

See Warren Strobel (Geneva), “Kerry-Lavrov rapport smoothed path to Syria deal,” Reuters, September 15, 2013 (1:20 a.m. EDT).

The Press Release contains the full text of the resolution and summaries of the statements made by Members of the Security Council.

The Foreign Ministers of the following members of the Council spoke:

Russian Federation (Sergey Lavrov)*
United States (John Kerry)*
United Kingdom*
Luxembourg
France*
Azerbaijan
Republic of Korea
China*
Guatemala
Morocco
Argentina
Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Pakistan also addressed the Council.
*Permanent Member

The representatives of Rwanda, Togo and Australia also spoke.

The full text of the press release and Resolution 2118 follow:

 

Press Release

Security Council
SC/11135
September 27, 2013

Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, New York

Security Council requires Scheduled Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2118 (2013)

***

Deeply outraged by the use of chemical weapons on 21 August in a Damascus suburb, as concluded by a United Nations investigation team, the Security Council this evening endorsed the expeditious destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme, with inspections to begin by 1 October, and agreed that in the event of non-compliance, it would impose “Chapter VII” measures.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2118 (2013) in a fast-breaking evening meeting, the Council determined that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constituted a threat to international peace and security, and called for the full implementation of the 27 September decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which contains special procedures for the expeditious and verifiable destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

Specifically, the Council prohibited Syria from using, developing, producing, otherwise acquiring, stockpiling or retaining chemical weapons, or transferring them to other States or non-State actors, and underscored also that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer such weapons.

Also by the text, Syria should comply with all aspects of the OPCW decision, notably by accepting personnel designated by OPCW or the United Nations and providing them with immediate and unfettered access to — and the right to inspect — any and all chemical weapons sites.

Further, the Council decided to regularly review Syria’s implementation of the OPCW Executive Council decision and the present resolution, requesting the OPCW Director-General, through the Secretary-General, to report to it within 30 days and every month thereafter. Fully endorsing the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, the Council called for the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Syria to implement that Communiqué.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the resolution’s passage as “the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time”, but said, even amid that important step, “we must never forget that the catalogue of horrors in Syria continues with bombs and tanks, grenades and guns”. He said the plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons was “not a license to kill with conventional weapons”.

Stressing that the perpetrators of the chemical attacks in Syria must be brought to justice, he said a United Nations mission had returned to complete its fact-finding investigation. The team would conclude its work next week and he would promptly transmit a report to all Member States.

He pressed the Council to capitalize on its new-found unity by focusing on two other equally crucial dimensions of the conflict: the dire humanitarian situation and the political crisis. For their parts, the Syrian sides must engage constructively towards the creation of a democratic State, while regional actors must challenge those who sought to undermine that process.

In the debate that followed, Council members praised the text for placing binding obligations on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, requiring it to get rid of its “tools of terror”. United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that that regime bore the burden of meeting the terms of the resolution.

At the same time, Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, emphasized that the responsibility for implementing the resolution did not lay with Syria alone. The text had not been passed under the Charter’s Chapter VII, nor did it allow for coercive measures. It contained requirements for all countries, especially Syria’s neighbours, which must report on moves by non-State actors to secure chemical weapons.

Also speaking in today’s debate were the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, France, Azerbaijan, Republic of Korea, China, Guatemala, Morocco and Argentina, as well as the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.

The representatives of Rwanda, Togo and Australia also spoke.

The meeting began at 8:15 p.m. and ended at 9:45 p.m.

 

Background

The Security Council met this evening to consider the situation in Syria.

 

Statements

Describing the resolution just adopted as “historic” and “the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time”, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said the international community had given a firm and united response.

Stating that the perpetrators of the chemical attacks in Syria must be brought to justice, he said a United Nations mission had returned to complete its investigation. The team would conclude its fact-finding activities next week and the Secretary-General would promptly transmit a report to all Member States.

Welcoming Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) established ambitious but realistic deadlines for the verified elimination of the programme.

The resolution would ensure that the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme happened as soon as possible and with the utmost transparency, he said, stressing that the cooperation of the Syrian Government and opposition forces would be crucial.

Declaring that a red light for one form of weapons did not mean a green light for others, he said that all violence must end and all guns must fall silent. “We must capitalize on the new-found unity of the Council by focusing on the two other equally crucial dimension of the conflict: the dire humanitarian situation and the political crisis,” he urged.

The text, he noted, also called for an international conference on Syria, which both the Government and the opposition had said they would attend. He said the conference was aimed for mid-November.

No one was naïve to the challenges of ending the conflict peacefully, he said. The Syrian sides must engage constructively towards the creation of a democratic State, while the regional actors must challenge those who actively sought to undermine the process and who did not respect Syria’s sovereignty.

As for the Security Council members, he said that, individually and collectively, they had a key role in ushering the Geneva process forward towards a lasting peaceful solution.

SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the resolution was in keeping with the Russian-American agreement. The lead role in the coming work lay with OPCW, which, along with the United Nations experts, would act impartially in Syria in full respect of its sovereignty. He expected the Secretary-General and the OPCW Director-General to closely cooperate in that work. He also expected that the Secretary-General’s recommendations would cover the safety of international personnel.

Noting that Damascus had shown its readiness for cooperation by joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said that was a precondition for success. It also had provided a list of its chemical weapons arsenal. Damascus would continue to cooperate with international inspectors. The responsibility for implementing the resolution did not lay only with Syria. He emphasized that the text had not been passed under the Charter’s Chapter VII, nor did it allow coercive measures. Violations of its requirements and use of chemical weapons by anyone must be carefully investigated. The United Nations would stand ready to take action under the Charter’s Chapter VII. Violations must be 100 per cent proven.

The resolution contained requirements for all countries, he said, especially Syria’s neighbours, which must report on moves by non-State actors to secure chemical weapons. All such situations should be considered immediately by the Security Council, as that would help create a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means. The resolution set up a framework for the political settlement of the conflict by backing the convening of an international conference, which he believed could take place as early as mid-November. He also expected the Syrian opposition to state its readiness. The Russian Federation would participate in implementing the chemical disarmament programme and in preparing for the Geneva II conference.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State of the United States, said today’s strong, “precedent-setting” resolution had shown that diplomacy could be so powerful, it could peacefully defuse the worst weapons of war. The text stated that chemical weapons use threatened international peace and security — at any time, under any circumstances. With a single voice, for the first time, binding obligations had been placed on the Assad regime, requiring that it get rid of its tools of terror. The text reflected what the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States had set out to do, and more; it sought to eliminate a country’s chemical weapons ability.

He went on to say that those weapons would be destroyed by mid-2014. The resolution also made clear that those responsible for their use must be held accountable. The Council had endorsed the Geneva Communiqué, and it had adopted a legally binding resolution that spelled out in detail what Syria must do to comply with it. It could not accept or reject the inspectors, but must give unfettered access at all sites. “We are here because actions have consequences,” he said.

Progress would be reported to the Council, he said, stressing that non-compliance would lead to the imposition of Chapter VII actions. The Council had shown that “when we put aside politics for the common good, we are still capable of great things”. The Assad regime carried the burden of meeting the terms of the resolution; the world carried the burden of doing what it must to end mass killing by other means — working with the same cooperation that had brought States here today. Countries also must provide humanitarian aid. Only then would the world have fulfilled its duty.

WILLIAM HAGUE, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said today’s “groundbreaking” text, the first on Syria in 17 months, recognized that any use of chemical weapons posed a threat to international peace and security, thereby establishing an important international norm. It upheld the principle of accountability for the proven use of those weapons, enforced legally binding obligations on Syria to comply with OPCW, and it endorsed the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. If properly implemented, the resolution would prevent a repeat of atrocities carried out on 21 August.

He said the United Kingdom was making a $3 million commitment to the OPCW Syria trust fund and urged all States in a position to do so to contribute likewise. It was vital that the Council build on today’s consensus to progress towards sustainable resolution of the Syrian crisis, first, by achieving a negotiated political transition, with a transitional body formed on the basis of mutual consent. He urged increased efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, for which the United Kingdom, thus far, had provided $800 million. The Council must apply its weight to secure unfettered access to those in need in Syria. With that, he urged redoubled determination to work through the Geneva II process and secure a better future for Syria.

JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, said the resolution contained robust and legally binding obligations, with which Syria must fully comply. One of the most significant chemical weapons programmes had been addressed through peaceful means. Recounting the horrific images emerging from that country, he said it was important that those never be reproduced. “For the first time, the Security Council has determined chemical weapons use is a threat to international peace.”

Urging the Syrian Government to respect the aspirations of all Syrians, he called upon all parties to take advantage of the positive dynamics, adding that any delay would lead to more death and more destruction. The world could not forget the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and its neighbours. In that connection, he urged Syria to grant free and unfettered access and lift bureaucratic obstacles. “Time has come to refer the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court,” he declared.

LAURENT FABIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said “tonight, in the midst of the Syrian crisis, the Security Council can finally live up to its name”. The use of chemical weapons was obvious; all clues pointed to the regime. No one in good faith could deny that fact. The present resolution met France’s three requirements: it determined that the use of chemical weapons constituted a threat to international peace and security; clearly stated that those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable; and decided that, in the event of non-compliance by the Syrian regime, the Council would take action under Chapter VII of the Charter. The resolution was only a first step; now it must be implemented. The Syrian regime, which until recently had denied possessing chemical weapons, could not be trusted. The United Nations and OPCW should immediately deploy their joint mission; the timetable set forth in the present text must be enforced.

He added that “the cooperation of Syria must be unconditional, and fully transparent”. The Council, which would be informed regularly, would be the judge of Syria’s commitment, and would impose measures under Chapter VII, if necessary. France would remain “watchful”. It wanted to capitalize on the Council’s unity to advance the political process and felt it was necessary to prepare the Geneva II conference within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué. He had chaired a meeting on Thursday with the President of the Syrian National Coalition, who confirmed a readiness to send a delegation as soon as possible. The Syrian regime’s supporters must make a similar commitment. He urged the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to move quickly in that direction.

ELMAR MAHARRAM OGLU MAMMADYAROV, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, welcomed the resolution and expressed hope that it would help to end the crisis. He said it was important that the Security Council stressed the need to hold accountable the perpetrators of the chemical attacks in Syria. Welcoming the American-Russian accord on Syria and the OPCW role, he said it was critical to ensure compliance, adding that tonight’s resolution had made careful provisions for that. All parties should cease the violence, he said, and seek a political solution to the conflict.

YUN BYUNG-SE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said the resolution showed the Council’s unity on the Syrian crisis, fulfilling its overdue responsibility to the Syrian people. Condemning the use of chemical weapons in the strongest possible terms, he reiterated that all such weapons should be eliminated — in Syria and everywhere. Today’s text made it clear that chemical weapons use anywhere was a threat to international peace and security. Only its full implementation would determine the value of the collective enterprise. Its binding nature showed the Council’s resolve to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, and the international community bore responsibility for promoting its implementation. The world could not afford acts of impunity, and, as such, the Council must ensure that those responsible for chemical weapons use were held accountable. He hoped an international conference would be held as soon as possible.

WANG YI, Foreign Minister of China, said that neither Syria nor the region could afford another war. The Security Council and the international community must make decisions that would pass the judgement of history. Stating his opposition to military solutions, he welcomed the resolution’s focus on the search for the chemical weapons. China, itself, had been a victim of chemical weapons during the Second World War, and the country opposed those weapons in all forms. He called for a comprehensive and accurate settlement of the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, and urged the international community to also step up efforts to deal with the humanitarian crisis there. The political solution and the destruction of chemical weapons must go side by side, he said, adding that the parties in Syria must redouble efforts in what would be a complex period ahead.

FERNANDO CARRERA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, welcomed the rejection of the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Russian Federation and the United States and the subsequent 14 September framework agreement. Today’s Council decision was “highly significant”, as it helped renew efforts to end the violence, address the humanitarian situation and meet the Syrian people’s demands. Towards that end, Guatemala had persistently backed the 30 June 2012 Final Communiqué of the Action Group for Syria and the need to hold an international conference to facilitate its implementation. Adoption of the present text, which Guatemala had co-sponsored, was of vital importance, considering that the last resolution on Syria had been adopted in April 2012. He understood the sensitivity of the issue and the urgency it demanded, and for that reason, had joined the consensus, despite having preferred a greater role in its development.

He recognized the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and OPCW, particularly in terms of personnel access and safety, operational support, privileges and immunities, and sufficient funding to carry out their duties. He trusted that a date could be set soon for the Geneva II Conference, and added that a transitional Syrian Government with full executive powers could be set up under the mutual consent of all parties. Such a Government must be inclusive. He expressed hope for a ceasefire in the short term.

SARTAJ AZIZ, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said the resolution was a landmark text, which demonstrated the Security Council’s leadership. Its unanimous adoption meant the international community had taken ownership of the process of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons programme. He hoped the new-found unity in the Council would be maintained, and added that the 15-member body would have difficult waters to navigate. A political settlement was the only way forward, including to mitigate the humanitarian crisis. The announcement of the convening of Geneva II reflected the urgency of the problem, he said, adding that the international community should proceed with a sense of purpose. Although it was too late for more than 100,000 Syrians, there was hope for millions of others.

SAAD-EDDINE EL OTHMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said “at last” the Council had been able to agree on an important resolution on the Syrian situation that reflected a genuine will to end the conflict. He appreciated efforts made by the “P-5” towards a solution that would find, destroy and ensure that chemical weapons were never used again. The League of Arab States also had led initiatives on the Syrian situation and the use of chemical weapons. Today’s historic text outlined steps for dealing with chemical weapons, in line with the United States-Russian Federation agreement. For the first time, it recognized chemical weapons were a threat to international peace and security. That would help to prevent a repeat of recent massacres, eliminating one of the Middle East’s largest chemical weapons arsenals in a peaceful manner. Morocco hoped a date would soon be set for the holding of the Geneva II Conference. Syria’s humanitarian situation was a catastrophe and every effort must be made to support United Nations agencies to help in that regard. Syria’s neighbours were also suffering.

HÉCTOR MARCOS TIMERMAN, Foreign Minister of Argentina, noting that the unfolding “horror show” was neither isolated nor unpredictable. Nevertheless, a door had been opened to a solution. The world saw the pettiness of the geopolitical interests at play, which had prompted ethical outrage in the international community. There was no leeway for double standards, he said, adding that those using chemical weapons must not go unpunished. The multilateral regime established by the United Nations Charter must be the basis for the lasting peace. The resolution established a specific mechanism for the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria on the basis of the United States-Russian Federation accord, and it also contained elements discussed in the Council, which had prompted Argentina to co-sponsor it. He called for greater efforts to address the other dimensions of the conflict and said the Council must remain seized of the matter.

EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda) said that, as the world prepared for the twentieth anniversary of the killing of Tutsis in his country, the conscience of the international community had been stained by the ongoing conflict in Syria, now in its thirteenth month. “We said ‘never again’ in Rwanda”; yet ethnic cleansing and other horrors had occurred in many corners of the world. The Council had not been able to save more than 100,000 people in Syria, due to divisions among certain members. The 21 August attack had led to the loss of innocent lives.

He welcomed the Council’s decision to impose coercive measures under the Charter’s Chapter VII, should Syrian authorities not comply with today’s text. He was pleased it called for the revival of the Geneva process. A military solution was not viable for that country or for the region. He urged the Council — especially the “P-5” countries that had influence on Syrian parties — to implement the Geneva Communiqué as soon as possible. Any political solution should ensure that those who had committed crimes were held accountable.

KODJO MENAN ( Togo), welcoming the resolution’s adoption, said the spirit of compromise had eventually prevailed. The Russian-American framework laid the groundwork for the text, he said, adding that, by co-sponsoring it, Togo not only had demonstrated its desire to see the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, but also of all weapons of mass destruction. The Security Council must step up efforts for a radiant future for Syria through the Geneva II Conference, he said, adding that the unity demonstrated in the Council must be used to bring together all parties in Syria for a political solution. The Council also must pay attention to the terrorist violence committed in that country, he said, adding that an inclusive and multi-faith Syria would bring unity and conciliation.

GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) expressed hope that today’s text would mark a turning point in the Council’s approach to Syria, showing that the body could use its authority to help achieve a stable and secure future for Syrians. For the first time, the Council had made clear that chemical weapons use was a threat to international peace and security, strengthening a fundamental norm of international relations: that the use of those weapons was abhorrent and breached international law.

He said that the text imposed legally binding obligations on Syria to secure and destroy its chemical weapons, and place them and related materials under international supervision. The Council decided that non-compliance by Syria would result in Chapter VII consequences. Importantly, the Council reaffirmed that the perpetrators of that mass atrocity crimes must be held accountable. Australia believed that available data showed that the Syrian authorities were responsible for chemical weapons use and that the Council should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Also, for the first time, the Council endorsed the Geneva Communiqué. It must now address humanitarian crisis more decisively.

 

Resolution

The full text of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

Recalling the Statements of its President of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012, 5 April 2012, and its resolutions 1540 (2004), 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012),

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,

Reaffirming that the proliferation of chemical weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

Recalling that the Syrian Arab Republic on 22 November 1968 acceded to the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925,

Noting that on 14 September 2013, the Syrian Arab Republic deposited with the Secretary-General its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Convention) and declared that it shall comply with its stipulations and observe them faithfully and sincerely, applying the Convention provisionally pending its entry into force for the Syrian Arab Republic,

Welcoming the establishment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic (the Mission) pursuant to General Assembly resolution 42/37 C (1987) of 30 November 1987, and reaffirmed by resolution 620 (1988) of 26 August 1988, and expressing appreciation for the work of the Mission,

Acknowledging the report of 16 September 2013 (S/2013/553) by the Mission, underscoring the need for the Mission to fulfil its mandate, and emphasizing that future credible allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian Arab Republic should be investigated,

Deeply outraged by the use of chemical weapons on 21 August 2013 in Rif Damascus, as concluded in the Mission’s report, condemning the killing of civilians that resulted from it, affirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law, and stressing that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,

Recalling the obligation under resolution 1540 (2004) that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons and their means of delivery,

Welcoming the Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons dated 14 September 2013, in Geneva, between the Russian Federation and the United States of America (S/2013/565), with a view to ensuring the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme in the soonest and safest manner, and expressing its commitment to the immediate international control over chemical weapons and their components in the Syrian Arab Republic,

Welcoming the decision of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of 27 September 2013 establishing special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof, and expressing its determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program according to the timetable contained in the OPCW Executive Council decision of 27 September 2013,

Stressing that the only solution to the current crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process based on the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, and emphasising the need to convene the international conference on Syria as soon as possible,

Determining that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

Underscoring that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council’s decisions,

“1. Determines that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

“2. Condemns in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on 21 August 2013, in violation of international law;

“3. Endorses the decision of the OPCW Executive Council 27 September 2013, which contains special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof and calls for its full implementation in the most expedient and safest manner;

“4. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to other States or non-State actors;

“5. Underscores that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons;

“6. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall comply with all aspects of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of 27 September 2013 (Annex I);

“7. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall cooperate fully with the OPCW and the United Nations, including by complying with their relevant recommendations, by accepting personnel designated by the OPCW or the United Nations, by providing for and ensuring the security of activities undertaken by these personnel, by providing these personnel with immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect, in discharging their functions, any and all sites, and by allowing immediate and unfettered access to individuals that the OPCW has grounds to believe to be of importance for the purpose of its mandate, and decides that all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully in this regard;

“8. Decides to authorize an advance team of United Nations personnel to provide early assistance to OPCW activities in Syria, requests the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General to closely cooperate in the implementation of the Executive Council decision of 27 September 2013 and this resolution, including through their operational activities on the ground, and further requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Director-General of the OPCW and, where appropriate, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, to submit to the Council within 10 days of the adoption of this resolution recommendations regarding the role of the United Nations in eliminating the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program;

“9. Notes that the Syrian Arab Republic is a party to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, decides that OPCW-designated personnel undertaking activities provided for in this resolution or the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of 27 September 2013 shall enjoy the privileges and immunities contained in the Verification Annex, Part II(B) of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and calls on the Syrian Arab Republic to conclude modalities agreements with the United Nations and the OPCW;

“10. Encourages Member States to provide support, including personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment, and financial and other resources and assistance, in coordination with the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General, to enable the OPCW and the United Nations to implement the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme, and decides to authorize Member States to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons identified by the Director-General of the OPCW, consistent with the objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to ensure the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme in the soonest and safest manner;

“11. Urges all Syrian parties and interested Member States with relevant capabilities to work closely together and with the OPCW and the United Nations to arrange for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission, recognizing the primary responsibility of the Syrian Government in this regard;

“12. Decides to review on a regular basis the implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of 27 September 2013 and this resolution, and requests the Director-General of the OPCW to report to the Security Council, through the Secretary-General, who shall include relevant information on United Nations activities related to the implementation of this resolution, within 30 days and every month thereafter, and requests further the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General to report in a coordinated manner, as needed, to the Security Council, non-compliance with this resolution or the OPCW Executive Council decision of 27 September 2013;

“13. Reaffirms its readiness to consider promptly any reports of the OPCW under Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which provides for the referral of cases of non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council;

“14. Decides that Member States shall inform immediately the Security Council of any violation of resolution 1540(2004), including acquisition by non-State actors of chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials in order to take necessary measures therefore;

“15. Expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable;

“16. Endorses fully the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 (Annex II), which sets out a number of key steps beginning with the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, which could include members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent;

“17. Calls for the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communiqué, and calls upon all Syrian parties to engage seriously and constructively at the Geneva Conference on Syria, and underscores that they should be fully representative of the Syrian people and committed to the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué and to the achievement of stability and reconciliation;

“18. Reaffirms that all Member States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any violations of this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

“19. Demands that non-State actors not develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any actions inconsistent with this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

“20. Decides that all Member States shall prohibit the procurement of chemical weapons, related equipment, goods and technology or assistance from the Syrian Arab Republic by their nationals, or using their flagged vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic;

“21. Decides, in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter;

“22. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

 

Annexes

The following Annexes attached to the Resolution are extensive. Their full texts are reproduced in the Press Release of September 27, 2013 (SC/111).

Annex I — OPCW Executive Council Decision
Decision on destruction of Syrian chemical weapons

Annex II — Action Group for Syria Final Communiqué (30 June 2012)

 

Overall Conclusions

Today was a good day for advocates of peace and respect for International Law. This highly significant agreement has the potential to restore collaboration among the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, which is an essential requirement for the maintenance of international peace and security in the world.

Sergey Lavrov and Russia speak the language of International Law. Barack Obama and John Kerry will be more successful in dealing with them if they learn to speak in that language as well. Today was a good start in that regard, and more generally on the road to peace.

No one can foresee what might happen if the statesmen of the world start having and developing visions of peace.

If the Resolution is observed, Kerry and Lavrov may have a good shot at jointly winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Trenchant Observer

Syria’s two problems, and Russia’s “iffy” solution to only one of them

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

President Obama’s speech to the nation tonight, September 10, was a weak speech, reflecting the confusion in his head and in the administration about what to do in Syria following the use of chemical weapons by government forces in Ghouta on August 21, 2013.

There are two problems in Syria.

The first problem is the vast amount of chemical weapons that al-Assad has amassed over the years, and the risk that they could be used by the Syrian government again against the Syrian people (or other countries), together with the very real risk that they might fall into the hands of al-Qaeda affiliates such as the al-Nusra Front or other terrorist groups.

The Russian proposal–on its face–would solve this problem, but would require al-Assad or his government successors to remain in power to implement the provisions placing chemical weapons under international control and providing for their destruction. This process would be likely to take years.

Signs that the Russians are simply engaging in one more ploy to delay international action against al-Assad include their dismissal out of hand today of a proposed French draft resolution for presentation to the Security Council with strong provisions under the authority of Chapter VII of the Charter.  The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement saying Russia didn’t think a Security Council resolution was needed. Rather, a (legally meaningless) Presidential Statement taking note of the agreement would suffice, he suggested. By these statements, Lavrov appeared to tip his hand.

In addition to Lavrov’s rejection of U.N. authorization of the use of force, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement indicated that Moscow does not want a Security Council resolution at all. Instead, the statement said, Russia envisions a statement by the council’s president — who rotates and is now an Australian representative — that would “welcome” the plan to monitor and ultimately destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and call on “interested parties” to carry out the plan.
–Colum Lynch and Karen DeYoung, “Kerry, Lavrov to meet on Russian proposal after Russia balks at plan for U.N. action,” Washington Post, September 10, 2013 (updated 6:45 p.m.).

This is the same formula (legally meaningless “Presidential statements”) the Russians used with such great success in getting Kofi Annan’s “mediation” mission up and running.  That mission bought them and al-Assad a great deal of time, at the cost of tens of thousands of Syrians killed by al-Assad’s further war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Without a binding Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter deciding (ordering) that the chemical weapons’ surrender and demolition will take place, the Russian proposal is a non-starter. The United States and the West and Arab countries don’t have any more time to play the Russian game of waiting and delay while al-Assad accepts or doesn’t accept this or that provision of this or that proposal.

There is an important distinction, however, which could make a Chapter VII resolution more palatable to the Russians. There is a difference between adoption of measures by the Security Council and “enforcement acton” involving force or economic santions to ensure they are implemented.

Chapter VII gives the Security Council the authority to adopt legally binding measures necessary to maintain international peace and security which otherwise would require the consent of the nation concerned. 

These measures can include the establishment of a binding chemical weapons regime in Syria which is not dependent on al-Assad’s assent.

The fear of the Russians is that such a resolution might be used as a pretext by the West to justify a military attack on Syria, should al-Assad fail to comply with the terms of the resolution. While such a possibilty might be desirable, if it becomes a stumbling block there is always the alternative of alleviating Russian and Chinese concerns by specifically providing in the resolution that no “enforcement action” may be taken by any state without the specific subsequent authorization of the Security Council.  There, Russia and China would continue to have a veto.

Such a provision was in fact included in draft resolutions which were vetoed by Russia and China in 2012.  However, the circumstances have now changed. Whether such a concession by the West may be required to strike a deal will have to be decided within the Security Council.

The second problem in Syria is that the al-Assad government continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale (bombing civilian neighborhoods, for example), while the country is in the grip of a very bloody civil war which over time is reducing the nation to a pile of rubble similar to that in Berlin in 1945. 

Not surprisingly, President Obama said very little in his speech tonight about this second problem, and the atrocities over the last two and a half years for which the Syrian government is responsible.

The Russian solution to the first problem would solve a big problem for outside powers like Russia and the United States, but would do nothing to solve the second problem–and indeed might even aggravate it as a result of the implicit need for the Syrian government to remain in power to implement the provisions of the chemical weapons regime.

Moreover, it is important that any Security Council resolution solving the first problem of chemical weapons not establish a “safe harbor” within which al-Assad can continue with impunity the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity on a vast scale.

Ideally, in order to address the second problem as well as the first, the Security Council resolution to be adopted would contain additional provisions relating to the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity—(at least) going forward—by any of the parties, and other provisions to set in motion a process aimed at the establishment of a ceasefire at the earliest possible moment–before any discussion of final arrangements is negotiated. 

The idea of convening a Geneva II conference while the fighting continues is a bad one, and is not likely to lead to real results any time soon—as most if not all of the parties understand. 

The bottom line is that the Russian proposal is meaningless without a binding Security Council resolution. 

That resolution should also have forward-looking provisions that might lead to a ceasefire and an end to the fighting, as a condition precedent to negotiations over any final arrangements.

Obama must somehow secure Congressional approval of a plan which will allow him to vigorously and effectively pursue the objectives outlined above.

The Trenchant Observer

The Russian proposal to control and dismantle chemical weapons in Syria—How to test it without losing momentum

Monday, September 9th, 2013

The Russians have been nimble at diplomacy throughout the two and a half years of the Syrian crisis, and today was no exception.  Picking up on a response made by Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference, they proposed a deal whereby Syria would surrender its chemical weapons to international authorities and agree to their destruction, in exchange for the U.S. and its allies not carrying out military strikes against Syria.

See Michael R. Gordon and Steven Lee Myers, “Obama Calls Russia Offer on Syria Possible, New York Times, November 9, 2013.

This is an interesting proposition, but a perilous one. 

It is interesting because removal of chemical weapons from Syria and the risk of their falling into the hands of al-Qaeda affiliated or other terrorists is very strongly in the national interests of both Russia and the United States.

Potentially, if done in the right manner, the removal of such weapons from Syria would also establish an important precedent regarding the use of chemical weapons:  “Use them, and you lose them.”

At the same time, the Russians and their Syrian clients have been adroit at dangling illusory negotiated solutions before the U.S. and other Western countries, succeeding time and again in fouling up any plans of outside powers to intervene forcefully in Syria to halt al-Assad’s atrocities. 

In this case, they seem to have zeroed in very precisely on President Obama’s whole rationale for intervening in Syria.  Predictably, he was thrown off, just as he was seeking Congressional authorization for military action against Syria. 

Meanwhile, while the approval of the House of Representatives appeared in doubt, as of today, Secretary of State Kerry and others have done a good job of building up international support for military action against Syria.  They aren’t there yet, but they have made great progress, and after the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Vilniius this last weekend, Kerry, Obama, and the U.S. clearly seem to be gaining momentum as other countries think through the consequences of failing to stand with the United States on Syria.

So what should the U.S. and its allies do about the Russian proposal?

One way to test the Russians’ intentions—without losing too much momentum—would be to propose that the U.N. Security Council adopt a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter deciding that Syria will surrender all of its chemical weapons to international authorities and assist in their destruction.

The negotiation that would be left would be over the implementation of the resolution by al-Assad and the United Nations. Here, Russia could be expected to play an important part.

This approach would avoid the pattern of drawn-out negotiations to get al-Assad to agree to this or to that, when we all know—the world knows—that his agreement by itself means nothing.

It would also put the Russians’ true intentions to the test.  This could be done within a period of a couple of weeks, for example, so that at the end of that period we would have both the report of the U.N. chemical weapons inspectors and also know quite clearly whether the Russians are willing to act.

Even if agreed, such a plan would leave the civil war on the ground raging as before. 

It is conceivable, however, that after collaborating on such a Security Council resolution and subsequent implementing plans, that the Russians could become more amenable toward working with the West and the Arab countries to set up transitional arrangements in Syria. 

Given Iran’s experience of having been the subject of chemical weapons attacks by Iraq during their long and tragic war (1980-1988), and the recent election of Hassan Rohani as the new president, the complex interplay of forces in Iran could conceivably lead to support for such a solution adopted by the Security Council–and perhaps even open up further possibilities for agreement on transitional arrangements in Syria. 

So, in conclusion, the U.S. and its allies should:

1.  Avoid getting suckered in to protracted negotiations to obtain the consent of al-Assad for the removal and dismantlement of his chemical weapons. 

Make the agreement in the Security Council with the Russians and the other members of the Council.  Then let the Russians ensure that al-Assad complies with the agreement. 

2.  Proceed with military plans if the Russian offer proves to be just another illusion and delaying tactic, as so many of their initiatives have turned out to be in the past.

We should always give peace a chance.

But we should also always bear in mind that the question is not whether the United States is going to war with Syria, but rather whether the United States and its allies are going to act effectively to take steps toward bringing a war that is currently raging in Syria to a halt.

The Trenchant Observer

Syria: Russia and Iran complicit under International Law in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Sergei Lavrov argues that Russia has to supply modern weapons systems to Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime in Syria in accordance with contracts that have already been signed, and warns the West and the Arab countries that any military action such as establishing a no-fly zone in Syria (without U.N. Security Council authorization), would violate international law.  

Staff and Agencies, “Syria no-fly zone would violate international law, says Russia; Comments by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov underline G8 challenge faced by US in trying to gain support for intervention,” The Guardian, June 15, 2013 (07:11 EDT).

However, as Lavrov makes this argument, one central fact must be kept foremost in mind:

Under International Law, Russia and Iran are themselves complicit in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria.  The Russians have knowingly supplied weapons, training and personnel to assist al-Assad’s forces in the commission of such crimes. Both Russia and Iran have helped finance the continuing commission, with their own ongoing advice and participation, of these crimes.

Consequently, they themselves are guilty of the commission of these crimes.

On the relevant international law on complicity in the commission of international crimes, see

Helmut Philipp Aust, Complicity and the Law of State Responsibility, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). Introductory front matter for the book, including a table of contents, is found here.

For a summary of Aust’s book, see Michael Byers, Book Review of Helmut Philipp Aust, Complicity and the Law of State Responsibility, in 23 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (EJIL), pp. 583–589 (2012). The full text of the book review is found here.

For an earlier (1996) treatment of the subject, see Bernard Graefrath, “Complicity in the Law of International Responsibility,” 1996 REVUE BELGE DE DROIT INTERNATIONAL, No. 2, pp. 370-381. The full text of the article can be found here.

In view of the above, when Barack Obama and the other G-8 leaders sit down with Vladimir Putin at the G-8 meeting in Belfast on Monday, June 17, they should all bear in mind that they are in the presence of a Russian president who is responsible for Russian aid and assistance to al-Assad’s regime in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that as a result Russia itself is guilty of committing these crimes.

Putin and Russia cannot cynically argue that they are allowed to assist al-Assad in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, incurring international responsibility, while under international law the West and the Arab states can do nothing to help protect their victims.

That is not where international law is, today, in 2013.

For an idea of the crimes they are supporting, see the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, articles 1, 7 & 8, which largely represent a codification of existing customary international law relating to these international crimes.  The text of the Statute of the ICC is found here.

It goes without saying that the commission of all international crimes in Syria must be stopped, including those committed by the insurgents.

The Trenchant Observer

The risks of playing the Russians’ diplomatic game: Putin, al-Assad, and their willing dupe–Barack Obama

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Unless the military balance shifts, talk of diplomacy is little more than an excuse to ignore atrocities and red lines. The choice is not between diplomacy and greater U.S. involvement. Without the latter, the former will fail.
–Trudy Rubin, “What Russia gave Kerry on Syria: Very little,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 2013 (3:01 a.m.)

To watch U.S. and Russian diplomatic efforts regarding Syria, one is tempted to view developments related to Obama’s decision to “work through the Russians” one more time, just as the U.S. did this time last year, as a kind of historical “instant replay”.

Unfortunately, what is occurring now is immensely more serious than what happened last year. History has not stood still. The situation in Syria is infinitely worse than it was a year ago, bad as it was then.

What many perceived as the risks of U.S. inaction, of the U.S. not leading at all, not even from the rear, have in large degree materialized.

The risk that extremists allied with Al-Queda might assume a commanding position among the insurgents has materialized in the form of the al-Nusra Front and other groups.

The risk that the conflict might spill over into other countries and become a regional conflict is increasingly being realized, as Hezbollah militia members fight alongside al-Assad’s Syrian army forces in al-Qusair, exerting such extraordinary pressure on Lebanon that the latter could itself explode in civil war within the next year.

Iran, perhaps emboldened by Obama’s failure to back his word regarding the “red line” of chemical weapons with actions when that line was crossed, now have trainers in Syria, and are very much engaged in the conflict, providing arms, intelligence, and advice.

A year ago it was argued that the U.S. should intervene in part because that would cause a severe setback to Iran. The opposite has occurred. U.S. passivity and inaction have handed Iran a victory, and emboldened it in its support of the al-Assad regime. Indeed, Hesbollah, which is highly dependent on Iran, may have sent its fighters to Syria at the Iranians’ request. It is hard to discern a thread of logic that would justify such an action within the Lebanese political context.

The risks of Israel, the U.S. and Russia getting drawn into the conflict have also increased, and begun to materialize.

On May 3-5, Israel conducted air strikes within Syria which were reportedly aimed at destroying a shipment of Fateh-110 missiles, which are medium-range advanced guided missiles capable of hitting targets at a range of up to 300 kilometers.

The first strikes were on May 3-4.

See Syrian media reports Israeli rocket fire targets military research center; Western intelligence sources confirm, say targets were Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles,” Haaretz, May 4, 2013 (10:48 PM).

President Obama argued that the air strikes (if they occurred) were justified. Haaretz reported,

Obama, in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo as part of a three-day Latin America tour that ended in Costa Rica, would not comment on whether the strikes had in fact taken place.

“I’ll let the Israeli government confirm or deny whatever strikes that they’ve taken,” he said.

But Obama, who visited Israel in March, made clear such strikes would be justified.

“What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. We coordinate closely with the Israelis recognizing they are very close to Syria, they are very close to Lebanon,” he said. (emphasis added)

–Reuters, “Obama: Israel has the right to guard against Hezbollah arms transfer; Syrian media reports Israeli rocket fire targets military research center; Western intelligence sources confirm, say targets were Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles,
Haaretz, May 4, 2013 (10:48 PM).

Subsequent to Obama’s statement, Israel unleashed a second attack within Syria reportedly aimed at destroying the missiles.

See Gili Cohen, Amos Harel and Reuters, “Israel overnight strike targeted Iranian missile shipment meant for Hezbollah’; Only a few days after an alleged Israeli strike, Syrian media reports Israeli rocket fire targeted a military research center; Western intel sources confirm Syrian reports, say targets were Iranian Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles,” Haaretz, May.05, 2013 (8:13 AM).

Worth noting in passing is the fact that the U.N. Charter and international law do not permit anonymous attacks on another country for which no legal justification is given. Moreover, Obama’s argument, for the Israelis, stretches the right of self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter far beyond the breaking point, as that right in international law is limited to situations where an armed attack “occurs”.

Russia has been reported as shipping ground to sea missiles to Syria (known as “Yakhonts”), and as being on the verge of shipping a new, more sophisticated air defense system and missiles (known as S-300) to Syria.

See

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “Russia Sends More Advanced Missiles to Aid Assad in Syria.” New York Times, May 16, 2013.

With Israel bombing arms shipments destined for Hezbollah within the territory of Syria, Russia delivering ground to sea missiles to the al-Assad regime, and Russia threatening to ship S-300 advanced missile defense systems to Syria, the risk of a direct confrontation bwtween Israel, Russia and/or the United States is substantial.

Wars often happen by accident, it may be useful to recall.

The other risk of playing the Russians’ diplomatic game in 2013, like the U.S. did in 2012, is that another 50,000 people, or more, may be killed in the coming year.

This, however, appears to be the least of the considerations being taken into account in Washington.

Russia is pushing the peace conference and negotiations with Bashar al-Assad because it limits the ability of the U.S. and other countries who oppose him to mount any kind of military action that might actually shift the balance against al-Assad and help bring the fighting and his commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity to a halt.

The Russians now appear to have decided to engage in a more direct confrontation with the United States, introducing substantial military assets for Syria into the mix. They, like the Iranians, may be starting to think that al-Assad can murder his way out of the current situation, and retain his hold on power. This has always been al-Assad’s preferred–and perhaps only–solution.

With Hesbollah and Israel directly entering the fray, the risks of playing the Russians’ diplomatic game, which provides Obama with diplomatic cover for his continuing inaction, are becoming very great indeed–and potentially explosive.

The Trenchant Observer

Grave errors, repeated? The United States, France, the U.K. and Kofi Annan’s successor; Latest developments on UNSMIS, Joint Special Envoy—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #76 (August 16) Revised 20:00 GMT

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Updated August 16 at 20:00 GMT

Latest Developments:
- U.N. Security Council allows UNSMIS mission to end on August 19
- Russia pushes hard to continue mission of Joint Special Envoy, convoking meeting on August 17 of Syria Action Group (from Geneva conference convoked by Kofi Annan and held on June 30).
- Statements by Security Council President Gérard Araud (France) and Vitaly I. Churkin (Russian Federation) at Media Stakeout following August 16 Security Council meeting (video)
- Daily Star editorial on distraction of naming successor to Kofi Annan
- Sources report Brahimi has accepted appointment as Joint Special Envoy

See

Editorial, “Poor substitute,” The Daily Star, August 11, 2012.

“Algeria’s Brahimi agrees to be new Syria mediator-sources,” The Daily Star, August 16, 2012 (09:59 PM).

SC President, Gérard Araud (France) on Syria – Security Council Media Stakeout (16 August 2012)16 Aug 2012 – Press Statement and informal comments to the media by H. E. Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of August 2012 on the situation in Syria.

Vitaly I. Churkin (Russian Federation) on Syria – Security Council media Stakeout (16 August 2012)
16 Aug 2012 – Informal comments to the media by H.E. Mr. Vitaly I. Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation on the situation in Syria.

Edmund Mullet on Syria – Security Council Media Stakeout (16 August 2012)
16 Aug 2012 – Informal comments to the media by the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmund Mullet on the situation in Syria.

****************************************************

The United States, France and Great Britain: Fatuity as Foreign Policy

Syria shows us how the world is adrift.

The leaders of the three Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council not supporting the Syrian government’s atrocities, the defenders of freedom in the world, as it were, are on vacation or otherwise out to lunch. Some, such as Obama, checked out a long time ago.

No one in the foreign offices of these three countries with the power of decision could have paid close attention to the events that have occurred in Syria and in the capitals of the five permanent members of the Council, and logically and in good faith support a new mission by a new special envoy to mediate or negotiate (or ingratiate himself toward) a solution to the Syrian crisis.

All of the diplomatic camouflage deployed by Russia and China has now been stripped away. The reasons they adduce for their actions are specious, dishonest arguments demonstrably lacking in candor and persuasive force.

What Russia and China stand for is the right of any government to wipe out its opposition, as Vladimir Putin did in Chechnya, and as China stands ready to do in Tibet, or with the Uigurs. They stand for the right of a dictatorship to annihilate its opponents, even when these begin by peaceful means, through the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes. They stand for the proposition that a dictatorship has the right to bomb hospitals, and to use artillery and other heavy weapons, and even jet fighters to bombard civilian neighborhoods without discrimination between  military and civilian targets, or even with the full intention to kill or massacre civilians.

They each stand for the continuing right of any (friendly) dictatorship to undertake the brutal crimes against humanity and war crimes which each in its own history has itself committed in the past.

Here is the critical point: Both Russia and China argue not only that they had the right to commit these crimes in the past, but that they have a continuing right to repeat such crimes in the future, if necessary, without the international community having any right to intervene–even with economic sanctions–to halt such crimes.

*********************************************************
For other articles on Syria by The Trenchant Observer, see the Articles on Syria page, here.
*********************************************************

But what of the countries whose histories and whose constitutions say they stand for liberty, and which have fought wars in defense of that liberty, including World War II?

Where do they stand?

Well, they don’t stand. They are on vacation. It is not a matter of convincing them by logic that they should intervene to halt al-Assad’s atrocities. It is simply that they don’t care.

They don’t care enough to pay attention.

They weren’t awake when Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov showed up with Kofi Annan at the meeting of the Arab League in Cairo on March 10 and somehow secured their acquiescence in a five-point plan which included a ban or foreign military intervention to stop the killing, which then became Kofi Annan’s 6-point plan.

They weren’t awake to observe how Kofi Annan’s mission played into the hands of the Russians and al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, among other reasons because it put all the cards in the hands of the Dictator and his Russian and Chinese backers, and imposed no costs for dithering and interminable delays while he killed thousands of his citizens.

And now, after the total, complete, absolute failure of Kofi Annan’s mission and the 6-point peace plan, they stand poised to “go along” with Ban Ki-Moon’s appointment of a “replacement” for Kofi Annan following his resignation.

They are not paying attention to the fact that the term of Kofi Annan’s mandate ends in August, and that Ban Ki-Moon by pliantly acceding to the pressures from Russia and China to quickly appoint a successor to Annan is by a sleight-of-hand finessing the more fundamental question of whether a new special envoy should be appointed at all.

By this slight-of-hand, Ban Ki-Moon is serving the interests of the Russians and the Chinese, with Kofi Annan in the background orchestrating things, including the selection of his successor as joint special envoy who he himself picked.

Logically, one would examine the record of Kofi Annan and the reasons he failed to end the civil war in Syria. Then one would ask whether the factors which caused him to fail, and indeed which caused his mission to be doomed from inception, still obtain.

Then, and importantly, a Security Council resolution would be adopted setting out the terms of reference for the new special envoy.  The idea being tossed around the Security Council that a presidential statement would be sufficient is legally deficient. If a new special envoy is to have a mission that goes to the very heart of the council’s responsibility to maintain international peace and security, it must surely be authorized by a resolution of the Security Council.

The Council cannot delegate its responsibilities by a non-binding “presidential statement”, but rather can do so only by a resolution adopted in accordance with the U.N. Charter.

The issuance of “presidential statements” on Syria by the Security Council during the last year has only served to confuse and misrepresent to the public that something has been done when, legally speaking, no action has been taken. This pattern should not be repeated here.

Only after these steps would the envoy actually be appointed, in the event the process advanced this far.

Are we to believe that Lakhdar Brahimi or whoever may be named as the new special envoy will halt the fighting in Syria, when none of the external factors have changed, e.g., the Russians and the Chinese remain intransigently opposed to any reasonable, effective action by the Security Council such as that proposed in draft security council resolution S/2012/538?

Are we to believe that anything Bashar al-Assad agrees to will have any meaning, any significance whatsoever, in view of his very recent track record?

What, precisely, could we expect any new special envoy to achieve, other than to distract the attention of the world from al-Assad’s ongoing atrocities on the ground, as Kofi Annan did, focusing the media attention of the world on the UN special envoy and whatever proposals he comes up with, and whatever the Russians say they will accept, or won’t accept, or whatever Bashar al-Assad says he will accept, or won’t accept?

Haven’t the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and France learned anything from the fiasco of Kofi Annan’s mission, at a cost of over 10,000 Syrian lives?

Is it conscionable, after this abysmal failure, to repeat the same basic mistake again?

The mistake involves negotiating with Bashar al-Assad while he is committing crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The mistake involves negotiating with the Syrian Dictator, when we know beyond any doubt that his agreement to any provision would be utterly worthless.

Further efforts at mediation will cost time, and thousands of more Syrian lives.  Do we have the moral right to contribute to the loss of those lives, by throwing a rope to a Dictator whose government may be crumbling, as the former prime minister of Syria, who recently defected, has asserted?

The last 17 months have taken place.  The events during this period are now historical facts.  Upwards of 20,000 civilians have been killed in Syria, in large part due to the inaction of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, and their allies and friends. These are facts. Those who have died cannot be brought back.

Is it morally defensible, or defensible on the international political plane, to offer as an excuse for going along with Ban Ki-Moon’s appointment of a successor to Kofi Annan–a successor selected and recommended by Kofi Annan himself!–the fact that they are on vacation, or didn’t have time to pay attention?

History will be the judge, and the judgment is likely to be very harsh indeed.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right handcorner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.

What future for UNSMIS and for Kofi Annan? Russia pushes for more of the same, with an implied military threat to dissuade all from any other options—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #61 (July 11)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

For a long-time student of diplomatic history and international politics, it is painful to watch the amateurism of Barack Obama’s foreign policy and foreign policy team.

In the case of Syria, where the interests of Russia, China, Iran, and the al-Bashar regime stand in sharp opposition to the interests of the United States, Europe, NATO, and members of the Arab League, who oppose repression through the use of terror including war crimes and crimes against humanity, following Obama’s foreign policy actions over the last year has been painful indeed.

Russia and China have stood, together with Iran, in stalwart support of the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad, vetoing Security Council resolutions in October 2011 and on February 4, 2012.

Russia, with a very experienced foreign policy team lead by Sergei Lavrov, a veteran diplomat, has acted with great clarity of vision in pursuit of its goal of maintaining Bashar al-Assad in power and deflecting or neutralizing all efforts to bring force to bear in order to halt al-Assad’s terror. Under President Medvedev (with Putin as Prime Minister, but hardly in the background), and now under Putin as president again, Russia has been unwavering in seeking and achieving its objectives.

On the first level, Russia has simply blocked any Security Council resolution that might work to the disadvantage of al-Assad and his regime of war criminals. It has watered down the two resolutions (2042 and 2043) adopted by the Security Council on April 14, and 21, ensuring that the illusory peace plan and cease-fire that they promised were embodied in resolutions with no teeth–with no consequences for al-Assad for violating them. Similarly, it has blocked adoption of any resolution by the Security Council conferring jurisdiction on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

On the second level, Russia has brilliantly played the weakly-led states of the West and the Arab League for fools–knowing fools, perhaps, but fools nonetheless.

The Russians’ willing tool and instrument has been Kofi Annan, with his 6-point peace plan and mediation mission. Annan’s mediation effort, interestingly, was already well underway before it was informally endorsed by the Security Council in a Presidential Statement on March 21 (which itself had no legal force).

Resolution 2042 formally endorsed the plan on April 14, and authorized Kofi Annan and his mission to “mediate” resolution of the Syrian crisis with al-Assad, who continued to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity even as Annan sought to mediate their cessation.

Resolution 2043 was adopted by the Security Council on April 21, expanding an observer mission authorized on April 14 to a 300-member mission known as UNSMIS to observe the cease-fire called for in the 6-point plan and Resolution 2042.

Al-Assad never complied with any of the peace plan’s provisions, and following numerous incidents where its observers were fired upon and threatened by crowds, UNSMIS was forced to stand down, confining its observers basically to their hotels in Damascus.

At various key decision points throughout this saga, Russia has raised the possibility of military engagement with them if the U.S., NATO, and the Arab states intervened in Syria.

One such threat was extraordinary: President Medvedev explicitly raised the possibility of a nuclear war in the region if there were military intervention against a state in the region (definitely Syria, possibly Iran).

At each decision point, the United States–without acknowledging the threat–went along with what the Russians wanted.

Now we are approaching another important decision point, to decide whether the UNSMIS mission should be extended when its initial 90-day authorization expires on or about July 20, and whether Kofi Annan should be authorized to continue his mediation effort.  And, at precisely this moment, Russia has sent a group of warships including Russian soldiers to the Syrian port of Tartus, just in case anyone had forgotten the threat.

The UNSMIS mission and Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts clearly provide cover for al-Assad and his continuing efforts to exterminate his armed and unarmed opposition through the use of terror.

Russia and Iran, which Annan has tried to bring into the diplomatic muddle, and presumably China, strongly support both of these proposed actions.

Will the U.S., NATO, Europe and the Arab League blink again, and in effect accede to the Russian demand that al-Assad be given as much time as he needs to annihilate his opponents–without military opposition from those who would use military force, if necessary, to halt the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes?

Will the countries which support a transition toward democracy in Syria, and an immediate halt to al-Assad’s crimes have the clarity of vision and the guts to oppose the Russians, the Chinese, Iran, and the Syrian regime? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, see the following article which offers a profound analysis of how Syria has divided the world, into what we have dubbed “The League of Authoritarian States,” on the one hand, and those supporting democratic transitions in Syria and elsewhere, on the other.

Michael Ignatieff, “How Syria Divided the World,” NYRblog (New York Review of Books), July 11, 2012.

Russia, China, Iran, and Syria share one bedrock principle: they will use “all necessary measures” in order to repress domestic opposition in their own countries, and will support others who do so abroad. These measures include terror, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other grave violations of fundamental human rights. Importantly, this support now includes the veto by Russia or China of any Security Council resolution that would confer on the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction and a mandate to prosecute those responsible for such crimes.

The battle lines are clearly set. Whether Obama will wake up from his illusion of a “reset” of U.S.-Soviet relations with Medvedev, and now with Putin, is an open question.

Obama is also reported to have a dream of concluding, in his second term, a significant new START treaty with Russia that would dramatically reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. Given his fecklessness on Syria, and the consequences that are likely to flow from the policies and actions he has adopted, it may be doubtful that he could ever secure the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed for ratification of such a treaty. Having watched Obama being outmaneuvered by Putin in Syria, Republicans would likely be skeptical if not outright hostile to any arms control agreement concluded between the two.

Democrats in the United States have for decades had the reputation of being unwilling to use the military when necessary to protect national interests. Obama clearly seeks to overcome the image of Democrats as being weak on defense through his hard-line policies on civil liberties in the war on terror, and his use of targeted executions by drones and other covert means against those perceived as posing a threat to the United States.

Whether these policies will in fact overcome longstanding doubts about the Democrats being weak on defense, in the heat of an election campaign, is an open question.

Certainly, allowing the Russians to roll over the West and the Arab countries in defending Syria and al-Assad’s crimes, will not strengthen the Democrats’ reputation of being unwilling to use military force to stand up to the military challenges of our opponents in the world.

Obama risks being seen, once the voters focus on the issues and hear the Republicans’ arguments, as being all talk, and no action–no guts, no intestinal fortitude, no resolve to act to defend the nation’s vital interests.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.

Kofi Annan proves Karl Marx right: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #59 (July 9)

Monday, July 9th, 2012

For background, see the following articles by The Trenchant Observer:

“Oh, what a beautiful castle in the sky! Kofi Annan—the Illusionist, the moral cowardice of the world, and the end of the United Nations dream—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #58 (July 2)”
July 2, 2012

“Immunity or safe-conduct for al-Assad? Can Kofi Annan fail? Conference before cease-fire?—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #56 (June 23),” June 23, 2012

“The League of Authoritarian States”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #50 (June 9),” June 9, 2012

“Stop the UN farce!—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #37 (May 15),” May 15, 2012

“Kofi Annan is not God—Obama’s debacle in Syria — Update #15,”
March 23, 2012

Karl Marx, after all, was right: History does repeat itself, for the first time as tragedy and for the second time as farce.

Kofi Annan must be on his fourth or fifth repeat of history, but it is still farce.

When I saw the news report that he met with Bashar al-Assad today in Damascus to discuss a common approach to stop the fighting, and that he said the discussions were promising, I almost fell off my chair.

The premise of any such discussions would have to be that Bashar al-Assad’s agreement–to anything!–would have some significance.

But only a fool, or a government playing us all for fools, could accept such a proposition, in the face of the absolutely overwhelming evidence to the contrary that has accrued.

Does this man–the Envoy–have no shame?

Thousands and thousands of people have died because of the illusions he has fed to the U.N. Security Council and to the world, and the false hopes he has raised, helping Russia to block any effective Security Council action to halt the killing in Syria, or any effective action outside the framework of the Security Council itself that might halt the killing.

Is there a single person left in the thinking world who believes Kofi Annan is acting on behalf of anyone other than himself, the Russians, and even al-Assad himself?

Is there a single leader in the thinking world who will speak out, and shout from the rooftops:

“Get this man off the stage!”

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.

Oh, what a beautiful castle in the sky! Kofi Annan—the Illusionist, the moral cowardice of the world, and the end of the United Nations dream—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #58 (July 2)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Kofi Annan, the ever-willing Illusionist, aided and abetted by the permanent members of the U. N. Security Council, has offered us one more castle in the sky at the Geneva Summit on Syria, on June 30, 2012.  The Summit was attended by the Permanent Members of the Security Council plus Turkey, Qatar, Iraq, and Kuwait. Iran was absent due to vehement U.S. objections, and presumably Saudi Arabia was not invited to balance the scorecard with the Russians.

Oh, and neither Syrian government officials nor the Syrian opposition attended.

The Superintendent of U.N. Properties, Ban Ki-moon, graciously made the facilities of the United Nations in Geneva available for the meeting.

What was the outcome?

Unanimity!

Unanimity was achieved again, as if on the proposition that all points on a circle are equidistant from the center!

Not to quarrel, the question of whether Bashar Al-Assad must leave power as part of the transitional government arrangements originally envisaged by The Illusionist, was left up in the air.

And fittingly so, since all of the pieces of this most beautiful palace in the sky are present and floating and circling above the world, like a pile of bricks in a land where there are no bricklayers and there is no mortar.

In its inner chambers, the new palace contains all the elements of the previous ones, including each and every one of Kofi Annan’s six points, informally endorsed by the Security Council first in its Presidential Statement on March 21, 2012 (which had no legal force), formally adopted by the Security Council in Resolution 2042 on April 14, and then once again reiterated in Resolution 2043, with the further adornment of some 300 unarmed monitors to observe compliance with the cessation of hostilities and other components of the 6-point plan, on April 21.

Like Russian dolls, each of the previous palaces contains within it the palace built before, and the one before that, and so on.

With this marvelous design, unity has been preserved–which is perhaps the greatest achievement of the summit.

All are agreed: All points on the circle are indeed equidistant from the center!

Now that work on this  beautiful  edifice has been completed, The Illusionist, together with Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and others they or The Illusionist may choose, will soon begin work on a bigger and even better Palace in the Sky, which like its predecessors will contain all palaces that have preceded it, like Russian dolls.

Outside the Palais des Nations in Geneva, some observers reported that they saw Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, as he was leaving, flash a big smile to well-wishers representing the Russian military and The KGB Boys.  Others told reporters they weren’t sure about Sergei Lavrov’s smile. The Chinese representative said he thought it might have been an illusion.

The venue was stunningly appropriate, as the Versailles Treaty had been signed in the very same Hall of Mirrors, in 1919.

Of course, the League of Nations failed when Italy invaded Ethiopia, a member of the League, in October 1935, and its last symbol collapsed under the treads of German tanks, in 1940, quite literally as the Third Reich seized the premises of the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague.

Does this history have anything to do with the Palace in the Sky, and the future of the United Nations?

One associates to Katherine Anne Porter’s brilliant novel, Ship of Fools (1962)–made into a movie of the same name in 1965.  Like the protagonist in the final scene of the movie, a dwarf who puffed on his cigar as he smiled and spoke, we can only answer,

“Nah, nothing at all.”

In the movie, the dwarf then chuckled ironically, turned, and walked down the gangplank.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.

Border tensions with Turkey rise; 190 killed on Thursday, al-Assad defiant, P5 + 4 to meet in Geneva on Saturday—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #57

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

On Thursday, the number of killed in Syria reached an all-time high for the year, at 190 dead, according to the New York Times:

Tallies by Syrian opposition groups that track casualties reported on Friday that the previous day’s death toll had reached 190 from violence in towns and cities throughout the country. The counts were detailed but could not be confirmed independently.

The largest number was concentrated in the Damascus suburb of Douma, an insurgent enclave about eight miles northwest of the capital, according to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in Britain, and the Local Coordination Committees, a Syrian-based group.

A spokesman for the Syrian Observatory said the death toll on Thursday was the worst of any single day this year, with 125 confirmed civilian fatalities as well as the deaths of 65 fighters reported but under investigation. The observatory considers a death confirmed when videotape or other documentary evidence identifying the victim is received.

The coordination committees, which uses similar methodology but acts independently, reported 139 civilian deaths on Thursday.

–Rod Norland and Rick Gladstone, “Syrian Groups Say Violent Day Left High Civilian Toll,” The New York Times, June 29. 2012.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in St. Petersburg to discuss Syria, on the eve of a conference to be attended by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States) plus Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. The conference is to discuss plans for a transition in Syria put together by Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League.

See “Syria conflict: Russia-US still split ahead of talks; Areas of “difficulty and difference” remain between Russia and the US ahead of key talks on the crisis in Syria, a US official says,” BBC News, June 29, 2012.

Amid intensifying fighting on the ground in Syria, both Turkey and Syria were reportedly moving forces toward their border. The Turks were reported to be placing air defenses near the border, while easing the rules of engagement for the use of force by their military in response to provocations from Syria. Opposition sources reported the movement of Syrian forces to within 20 miles of the border, but were unclear as to their intentions.

See Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Antakya, Turkey/Reuters), “Turkey reinforces border: Assad’s helicopters hammer northern Syria (+video); Turkey reinforced its border with missile batteries Thursday. Syrian tanks massed 20 miles from the border with Turkey. Helicopters attacked Saraqeb, Syria,” The Christian Science Monitor, June 29, 2012.

Russia, after initially accepting a formulation by Kofi Annan that would in effect exclude al-Assad from a transitional government, reversed course. Differences were to be worked out in Clinton’s meeting with Lavrov in St. Petersburg Friday, but a meeting of the minds reportedly did not occur.

Khaled Yacoub Oweis of Reuters reported,

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, Russia proposed changes to Annan’s plan for a national unity government in Syria, despite initially supporting it, but the United States, Britain and France rejected the amendments, Western diplomats said.

Russia and the other permanent U.N. Security Council members told Annan this week they supported a transitional cabinet that could include government and opposition members but would “exclude … those whose continued presence and participation would undermine the credibility of the transition and jeopardise stability and reconciliation,” according to Annan’s proposal.

Diplomats told Reuters that Annan’s idea of excluding certain people was clearly referring to Assad.

Although Russia signaled to Annan this week that his plan was acceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reversed course on Thursday, diplomats said. Diplomats said the Russians demanded that Annan remove from his proposal the language about excluding people from a Syrian national unity government.

In Damascus, Bashar al-Assad defiantly asserted that no solution would be imposed by outside powers, friendly or not, and that he would “annihilate” the “terrorist” groups that were causing the civil strife in Syria.

See “Assad Rejects External Solution for Crisis,” BBC News, June 29, 2012.

Moscow probably does not have the leverage over al-Assad to force him to stand down immediately, though if they quit supplying him with weapons, intelligence and money, and joined the civilized countries of the world in imposing strict economic sanctions on Syria under a Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, they could certainly speed his departure.

What may be required, however, as we suggested in April, is that al-Assad will have to be taken down like a mad dog.  That will require military intervention, with or without Security Council authorization.

As for Kofi Annan and his conference, reports of the reversal of the Russian position regarding a fundamental point, which was a precondition for attendance at the conference, confirm that Russia cannot be trusted, and/or that Annan cannot shoot straight when trying to pull off one of his mediation initiatives. His mission should be ended at the earliest opportunity.

Instead of passing messages through Annan, who obviously has a large ego investment in the success of his mediation and has also shown himself to be pliant to Russian demands, the United States and Russia would do better to set up a small working group of their own within the framework of the Security Council, where representatives of the two countries can deal directly with each other.

Annan is quoted in the media as saying that he is “optimistic” that the talks on Saturday at the conference will produce a “satisfactory outcome”. For Kofi Annan, it seems that almost any outcome would be “satisfactory” as long as it kept him and his mediation operation in business.

What Syria needs, however, is an outcome that is “satisfactory” because it stops the atrocities.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.