The U.N. General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly adopted a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria that expressed “grave concern” at the escalating violence but India was among the 31 nations that abstained.
The 193-member General Assembly passed the resolution that denounced Syria’s crackdown on its people and demanded that the country lockdown its chemical and biological weapons. The resolution also deplored “the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions”.
The resolution got 133 votes in favour, while 12 countries voted against. Thirty one countries, including India, abstained.
An earlier draft of the resolution had provisions that demanded regime change; called on President Bashar Al-Assad to resign; and asked countries to place sanctions against the country for the violence and killing.
India was not in favour of these provisions and a senior member of Indian delegation had said that officials “worked over time” to get these demands dropped from the resolution.
Others countries like Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa too were not in support of the provisions demanding regime change and sanctions.
Indian Ambassador to the U.N. Hardeep Singh Puri had also held several rounds of discussion with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts over the provisions of regime change and sanctions in the resolution. Unlike a U.N. Security Council resolution, the General Assembly resolution is not legally binding. It is only moral and symbolic in nature. The resolution strongly condemns “the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and pro-governmental militias“.
Addressing the 193-member General Assembly before the vote on the resolution, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the violence and acts of brutality being reported in Syrian cities may constitute “crimes against humanity or war crimes”.
He said despite repeated verbal acceptances of the international envoy and six-point plan endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, the Syrian government and the opposition continue to rely on weapons and not diplomacy — believing that they would win through violence.
The Syrian crisis has escalated in the last 17 months when the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime began.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and thousands others displaced by the fighting between government and rebel forces.
Efforts to restore peace and stability in the troubled nation were dealt a huge blow when the United Nations -Arab League envoy Kofi Annan announced yesterday that he was resigning from his post — six months after his efforts to end the violence and find a political solution to the Syrian crisis yielded no results.
Mr. Ban said the violence and bloodshed in Syria was “avoidable” if the Syrian government had from the beginning of the uprising not responded to peaceful demonstrations with brutal force, including mass round-ups and torture.
He said observers had predicted at the start of the conflict that unchecked spread of violence in Syria would lead to a rise of radicalisation, extremism and terrorism.
“The next step was also forewarned: a proxy war, with regional and international players arming one side or the other.”
“Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria’s rich tapestry of interwoven communities. This would have tragic implications for Syria’s people and could affect stability across the region. We must not let this prediction come true,” Mr. Ban said.
He said mediation to solve the Syrian crisis can only succeed if there is a commitment to solving conflict through dialogue and real leverage to back it up.
Mr. Annan too had blamed a divided international community and U.N. Security Council for lack of action to stop the violence.