Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Security Council "paralyzed" on new Syria probe amid US-Russia discord

Russia vetoes UN resolution on Syria after suspected chemical attack Rival resolutions fail on Syria chemical weapons probe
Faye Gross | 13 April, 2018, 01:21

"They're the gold standard in collecting this type of information (about chemical weapons use), and we would certainly rely upon them, as we have in other instances, to take a look at that", she said.

Rival draft resolutions by both the U.S. and Russian Federation to set up a new expert body to probe chemical weapons attacks in Syria have failed to pass at the United Nations Security Council. Haley said the draft resolution was not impartial or independent since it would allow Russian Federation to veto investigators and staff for the new body - and to block its findings.

Twelve of the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted in favour of the United States text, while Russian Federation and Bolivia voted against it, reports Xinhua. The U.S., Britain and France opposed the measure, saying that the investigators are already headed there and that the text didn't include a new way to assess blame for chemical attacks.

As the showdown between Russia and the United States got underway, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of "planting this resolution" as a "pretext" to justify action against Syria.

Addressing the Security Council, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Washington-drafted "is the bare minimum that the council can do to respond to the attack".

As tensions escalate over possible USA -led military reprisals for the suspected attack, the U.N.'s most powerful body remained paralyzed, unable to overcome its deep divisions that have been a hallmark of its debates during the seven years of conflict in Syria.

"If you took the decision to carry out an illegal military adventure - and we do hope that you will come to your senses - well then you will have to bare responsibility for it", said Nebenzia.

Nebenzia accused the United States of trying to mislead the global community and said it is "taking one more step toward confrontation".

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The next two offered by Russian Federation failed to get a majority, avoiding the need for a Western veto.

The two Russian draft resolutions won 6 and 5 votes respectively.

Russia's draft was voted on later on Tuesday, receiving six votes in favor and seven against with two abstentions.

Five countries - Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Russia - voted in favor, failing to pass the threshold of nine. Four member states, including the United States and the United Kingdom, voted against.

Right before the vote on the third text, Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations Olof Skoog requested a suspension of the meeting for extra consultations. "This is very alarming for us", he said.

Tuesday's intensive voting came as Security Council members were striving to set up a mechanism to determine which side was accountable for the chemical weapons use in Syria.

On Monday, Russia and Syria had told the Council that they were inviting the OPCW to send investigators and they would provide them protection and facilities. The investigation mechanism ended in November 2017 after Russian Federation blocked the renewal of its mandate.

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