23rd Sep 2019

EU countries push for UN resolution on Syria

  • Assad poster in Damascus old town. Juppe: 'It is inconceivable that the UN remains silent on such a matter' (Photo: oliverlaumann)

The UK and France have put forward a draft UN Security Council resolution urging Syria to stop killing protesters, but China and Russia are wary of the move.

British foreign minister William Hague told national MPs on Tuesday (7 June) that the text does not call for sanctions or authorise military intervention, as in Libya: "Britain has circulated a draft ... calling for the Syrian government to meet their people's legitimate demands, release all prisoners of conscience, lift restrictions on the media and internet and co-operate with the UN high commissioner for human rights."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He noted: "The house will appreciate that a resolution is not in our gift, and needs the support of nine UN Security Council members and no vetoes." He also said: "We are exploring with our European partners the potential for further sanctions if the violence continues."

Speaking at a UN event on Aids in New York the same day, French foreign minister Alain Juppe said: "It is inconceivable that the UN remain silent on such a matter ... I think it is a question of days, maybe hours [until the vote]."

French diplomats have noted that the build-up to military action in Libya began with resolution 1970 in February imposing sanctions on Gaddafi before resolution 1973 in March mandated air strikes.

Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday that Moscow is against any 1973-type move on Syria.

He said: "The prospect of a UN Security Council resolution along the same lines as 1973 on Libya will not be supported by my country." He added: "We believe all these situations require political solutions. I am not sure that sanctions are an effective tool in this situation, and, of course, as Libya has shown, the use of force does not provide answers."

China's UN ambassador, Li Baodong, told press at the Aids meeting in New York: "We do not think the involvement of the Security Council will help the situation there."

President Bashar al-Assad's forces have killed more than 1,100 people since unrest began two months ago, according to Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah. Human Rights Watch in a study on 1 June entitled 'We've never seen such horror' said "systematic killings and torture ... [may] qualify as crimes against humanity."

The internal conflict is threatening to spill over into neighbouring countries.

People are fleeing the northern town of Jisr al-Shughur for Turkey as government troops prepare a large-scale assault. Beirut-based journalist Robert Fisk says the Turkish army has drawn up plans to send "several battalions" into northern Syria to create a 'safe zone' designed to stop ethnic Kurds from going to Turkey.

Israel has complained to the UN that Syria is inciting Palestinian refugees to cause trouble on the contested Israel-Syria border in order to divert attention. Several Palestinians were killed in a border incident on 5 June. Syrian state-run newspaper, Tishrin, says up to 600,000 Palestinians could try to cross the border in future.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Iran has warned Western powers to stay out.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday: "I condemn the meddling of the US and its allies in Syrian affairs." The UK's Hague the same day told MPs that "Iran is ... [giving] equipment and technical advice to help the Syrian regime crush protests in Syria."


How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

Central European leaders demand Balkan EU accession

Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have demanded to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania this year, as Hungary's man prepares to take over the enlargement portfolio.

Just 5% of Europeans trust Trump

European voters believe that EU's foreign policies should be more coherent and effective in order to remain neutral in potential international conflicts, since most EU citizens no longer rely on the US security guarantee, according to a new report.

News in Brief

  1. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  2. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban
  3. 600,000 stranded on holiday as Thomas Cook collapses
  4. Egypt: hundreds of protesters arrested over weekend
  5. Global car industry fears no-deal Brexit shock
  6. France: de-escalation between US and Iran priority
  7. Spain demands UK 'reciprocity' on resident rights
  8. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'


These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.


Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  2. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  4. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  8. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  10. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  11. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  12. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us