Germany, Britain, France seek UN action against Syria

17th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

European nations said Thursday they have key Arab support for a UN resolution condemning human rights abuses by the Syrian government.

Diplomats from Germany, France and Britain will present the resolution at the UN General Assembly's human rights committee on Thursday for a vote expected next Tuesday, German officials said.

Success could increase pressure on the full UN Security Council to act over the Syria crisis. Russia and China last month vetoed a council resolution condemning the deadly crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's forces which the United Nations says has caused at least 3,500 dead.

The British, French and German UN ambassadors met Arab ambassadors at UN headquarters Wednesday after Arab leaders gave Assad three days to end his violent repression, a German mission spokesman said.

"There was strong support to go ahead with the draft resolution: some Arab delegations even expressed their intention to co-sponsor the resolution," said the spokesman.

He did not name countries but other diplomats said Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Morocco and Saudi Arabia were among strong candidates to co-sponsor the resolution.

"The Arab world has sent a very clear message: the massive human rights violations and the suffering of the Syrian people have to stop," Germany's UN ambassador Peter Wittig said.

"We appreciate that there is strong support for a resolution by the General Assembly: we hope it will show Assad just how isolated he is," the envoy added.

But Wittig said it was still imperative for the Security Council to condemn Assad.

"No misunderstanding: this is no substitute for council action. We still see a need for the council to live up to its responsibilities and we expect that council members don't easily dismiss the strong voices from the region."

After last month's veto, Britain, France, Germany and the United States said they would seek the right moment to return to the 15-member Security Council.

"The action will require a lot more finesse to get it passed but we are still determined," said one Western diplomat.

The European nations believe that a leading Arab role will be crucial to getting council action.

Russia and China vetoed the October 4 resolution, while Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon abstained. After the NATO strikes in Libya, opponents said they feared Western nations would use Security Council intervention in Syria as an excuse for a regime change campaign.

Europe and NATO have insisted they have no intention of launching military action in Syria.

Russia signaled again Thursday it opposed UN action, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying the West and the Arab League should not just single out Assad over the violence but also urge opposition restraint.

China however said it was "highly concerned" about events in Syria.

© 2011 AFP

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