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Neutralizing the Russian Veto on Syria

Guest Writer Nehad Ismail argues that the suffering in Syria is such that action must be taken with or without Security Council backing.
‘The Syrian conflict has cost an estimated 250,000 lives and displaced millions of people since March 2011. Yet Russia and China have blocked all attempts by the UN Security Council to end the bloodshed.

They did agree to the 2013 UN Security Council Resolution 2218 which established a framework for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons. However, since then there have been some 35 violations by the regime according to NGOs operating in the region.

In March of this year another Resolution was passed, this time condemning the use of chlorine, but since there has been continued and escalating violations in the form of chlorine-filled bombs dropped from helicopters.

In July this year Russia and China vetoed a draft UN resolution calling for the crisis to be referred to the international criminal court – thus they ignored support for the measure by 65 other countries and all other members of the Security Council.

Both have a long and despicable history of obstruction and prevarication.

In 1999 Russia vetoed US efforts to secure a UN Security Council Resolution authorizing military action against Yugoslavia. In 2003 it used the same tactics to frustrate a resolution calling for military action against Iraq.

In 2007 Russia and China vetoed a resolution against the Burmese military junta.

In July 2008 both rejected sanctions against the Robert Mugabe’s odious regime in Zimbabwe.

In 2011 they vetoed a resolution condemning Syria which would have been the first such legally binding move adopted by the Security Council since the regime began using its military machine against protesters in mid-March 2011 in the town of Deraa.

This summer Russia vetoed a UN resolution to create an international tribunal to prosecute those who shot down the Malaysian airliner MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. It followed up by vetoing a resolution that would have described as “genocide” the Srebrenica massacre committed by Bosnian Serb forces against Muslims during the Bosnian War in July 1995

So Russia’s role as an obstructionist is well documented, and the Syrian regime has rejected all peace initiatives to end the conflict. It has instead chosen the path of violence and massacres aided and abetted by Iran, Russia, and China and by US indifference.

It is not clear how much longer and how many more thousands of Syrians have to die before Russia and China see sense and support the International Community to protect the people of Syria.

So, how to bypass the Russian and Chinese veto? Precedents do exist.un 3

Over Yugoslavia, and Iraq, Washington and allies bypassed the UN and mounted military action. However, there is another precedent dating all the way back to the Korean War.

Some legal experts believe that by invoking the obscure UN Resolution 377, also known as the “Uniting for Peace” Resolution, it would not be necessary to seek a UN Security Council Resolution to take action in Syria.

UN Votes on Korea. 1950

UN Votes on Korea. 1950

On 27 June 1950 the United States called on the UN to use force to evict North Korea from South Korea as the North had ignored a Security Council Resolution of June 25th. This was voted for and Russia could not use its veto as it was then boycotting the UN. As a result the US pushed through the resolution as a means of circumventing possible Russian vetoes.

The measure states that, “in the event that the Security Council cannot maintain International Peace, a matter can be taken up by the General Assembly”. This procedure has been used 10 times so far, most notably in 1956 to help resolve the Suez Canal crisis. Britain and France, which were occupying parts of the canal at the time, vetoed Security Council resolutions calling for their withdrawal. The United States called for an emergency “Uniting for Peace” session of the General Assembly, which passed a withdrawal resolution. (A simple majority vote is required.)

There is a general but not legally universal consensus that in exceptional circumstances the International Community can act to prevent human catastrophes. In the case of a paralyzed UN Security Council, a legitimate case for action can be made by the International Community to stop flagrant war crimes, large scale violations of human rights, and ethnic cleansing.

Many experts believe that if the Security Council is incapable of acting, a new norm of intervention by a coalition of states would seem to be entirely justified where large scale atrocities are being committed. Syria is such a case.’

Nehad Ismail


8 Comments on "Neutralizing the Russian Veto on Syria"

  1. So… you’re counting on the Obama administration? Really?
    Suppose Obama wasn’t concerned about allegations of double standard if he were to decide to intervene in Syria; he would still need the support of allied nations as you suggest.
    The UK’s brand new opposition leader opposes anything the West does against anyone and anything that is not part of the West, so the UK government would have a hard time with public opinion. There’s France who opposes Assad but is in a good relationship with Lebanon, whose Hezbollah militia is fighting alongside Assad. There’s the Arab league who wants the West to intervene as long as they themselves won’t have to actually do anything. There’s Turkey who supports Daesh under the table, fighting agianst the Kurds, wants Assad out but, is concerned about Iran.
    After this partial list, there’s the matter of the Iran nuclear deal and the fact that their forces are already on Syrian grounds. The Iranian regime could use any operation against Assad as pretext to negotiate further or even get out of the deal – which the West was desperate to get otherwise it wouldn’t have turned out so lame. Alternatively, do anything else that comes to their mind to prevent Western forces from gaining control over Syria. The side effect of this means, internal pressure in Western coalition countries to “stop the war” (and countless of anti-Semitic – Zionist conspiracy theories), would lead to violent clashes and tedious editorials.
    Besides, if a coalition of Western and Arab countries were to take charge over Syria, how many years would it take to rebuild civilian institutions? How many Western soldier’s lives would be lost? And for what… for what goes on in Iraq nowadays? This is how the West sees it.

  2. mahatmacoatmabag | 14th September 2015 at 5:04 pm | Reply

    Hi Nehad, greetings to you & family for the upcoming Waqf al Arafa and Eid-al-Adha holidays .

    The UN is nowadays a dishonest & perverted talk shop controlled by Russia, China & other rogue states so I don’t hold out any hope of any meaningful resolution on ending the Syrian civil war.

    In the meantime 7 T-90 tanks are said to be stationed at an airfield near Latakia to bolster President Bashar al Assad’s forces, along with advanced AA missiles & 1,000 Russian naval infantry ( marines ) out of a force of 1,500 known to be in Syria . My guess is that Putin has brought forward his timetable to expand Russian influence in the Mid-East, starting with rearming Iran with advanced weapons, a possible deal to sell Russian weapons to Egypt a US client state since the Egypt / Israel peace agreement but now under the Obama administration no longer Egypt can no longer trust the US for help & the big Russian move into Syria that started with resupply of weapons to Assads forces and now has turned into a large scale Russian naval , air & land combat forces mode. I expect that the possibility of Russian forces taking part in combat is not far off & most likely we will soon discover that Russian special forces have already been in action on a small scale against ISIS. Russia is playing a dangerous game but one based on Putins world view & the fact of only 16 months till Obama the appeaser leaves office this is the right time to strike & make gains

  3. nehad ismail - United Kingdom | 14th September 2015 at 10:18 pm | Reply

    Thank you Shira and Mahatmacoatmabag for your comments which I take on board. Whilst not disagreeing with you, I believe the picture was much simpler in 2011/2012. Then Hezbollah was still not involved, there was no ISIS until the summer of 2013. The refugees numbered in tens of thousands not in millions. Had action been taken end of 2011/or in 2012 the picture would have been totally different. Obama is not interested. He is too weak and has capitulated to Iran and Russia.

  4. nehad ismail - United Kingdom | 15th September 2015 at 8:30 pm | Reply

    Thank you Mahatmacoatmabag for your kind Eid wishes. And likewise wishing you and all our Jewish friends “L’Shana Tova,”.

  5. I should visit more often… thanks Nehad and mahatmacoatmabag and happy holidays to you too (I should really get a calendar).

    yeah the situation was simpler before 2013, but no one did anything and now it is even more complicated. and I agree that Obama is either weak or not interested or both, that’s why I wondered why you suggested that the US might intervene. unless you meant someone else should do it?
    of course I didn’t mention Russia who is getting more and more involved which would make things even worse – for Syrians, not for the U.S.A

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