UNITED NATIONS: Russia and China yesterday vetoed a resolution to refer the situation in Syria to International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the three-year civil war.
This was the fourth time Russia, a close ally of President Bashar Al Assad’s government, and China have blocked UN Security Council action on Syria during the civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people.
US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the victims of the conflict “deserve to have history record those who stood with them and those who were willing to raise their hands to deny them a chance at justice.”
“Our grandchildren will ask us years from now how we could have failed to bring justice to people living in hell on earth,” Power told the council after the vote.
There were more than 60 co-sponsors of the French-drafted resolution, diplomats said. The resolution was put to a vote with the knowledge that it would be vetoed. The remaining 13 members of the council voted in favour.
“If members of the council continue to be unable to agree on a measure that could provide some accountability for the ongoing crimes, the credibility of this body and of the entire organisation will continue to suffer,” UN Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the council on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The ICC prosecutor cannot investigate the situation in Syria without a referral from the 15-member Security Council because Damascus is not a member of the Rome Statute that established The Hague-based court a decade ago. The council has previously referred Libya and Darfur, Sudan to the ICC.
Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, questioned why the resolution was put to a vote when it would again expose disunity in the council, which had previously been able to agree resolutions on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and demanding greater humanitarian aid access in the country.
Chinese Deputy Ambassador Wang Min defended China’s veto, saying Beijing long had reservations about the council referring conflicts to ICC. Reuters