UN council to vote on taking Syria before criminal court

16th May 2014, Comments 0 comments

The UN Security Council is expected to vote next week on a resolution to haul Syria before the International Criminal Court, although the measure is likely to fail because of opposition from Russia and China.

The resolution drafted by France aims "to send a message that there is accountability for the crimes committed in Syria," one diplomat said.

"There is a clear need to demonstrate that the international community is interested in accountability" for the more than three years of violence visited by the Damascus government upon the Syrian people, the diplomat said.

Western powers have decried mounting atrocities said to include systematic torture, chemical attacks and the use of "barrel bombs" packed with explosives.

The conflict in Syria so far has killed 150,000 people and displaced nearly half the population, as the government employs what one diplomat called "starvation and siege tactics" against its people.

Next week's Security Council vote also comes amid growing suspicions that Syria has been using chemical weapons on its own people.

Human Rights Watch said in a report earlier this week it had gathered evidence showing the Damascus government put chlorine canisters inside the barrel bombs it dropped from helicopters on opposition-held towns in northern Syria.

But many diplomats said they anticipate that Russia, as it has on three prior occasions, would reject the measure in the Security Council, which requires at least nine yes votes for approval, and no veto from any of the council's five permanent members -- China, France, Russian, Britain and the United States.

Moscow already has indicated it doesn't back the measure.

"We believe you need to build a positive momentum," said Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, who voiced concern that the vote could "exacerbate" differences among parties within the council.

The draft resolution expresses the council's "strong condemnation of the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and pro-government militias."

It also assails "human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by non-state armed groups," in Syria.

© 2014 AFP

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