Resolution to seek Syrian rights condemnation

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2011 6:52 AM
Resolution to seek Syrian rights condemnation

Germany, Britain and France are pressing for a U.N. resolution that would strongly condemn Syria's human rights violations and call for an immediate halt to all violence in the country.

The three European countries decided to move ahead with the General Assembly resolution after the Arab League confirmed its suspension of Syria Wednesday and gave Bashar Assad's government three days to halt the violence against civilians and accept an observer mission or face economic sanctions.

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig said the Europeans appreciate the strong support for the resolution.

"We hope it will show Assad just how isolated he is," Wittig said.

The Europeans had introduced the resolution in the General Assembly's human rights committee but held up pushing for its adoption to see if it would get Arab support.

Ambassadors from Germany, Britain and France met some of their Arab counterparts late Wednesday afternoon to discuss the way ahead following the Arab League meeting in Cairo and got strong support to pursue the resolution, a German spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

Some Arab delegations said they intend to co-sponsor the resolution, which will be sent to the U.N. Secretariat on Thursday and introduced in the General Assembly's human rights committee by Wittig on Monday, the spokesman said.

The General Assembly could vote on the resolution next week, the spokesman said. Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect the views of the 193 U.N. member states.

Witting said the Arab world has sent a very clear message to Syria _ "the massive human rights violations and the suffering of the Syrian people have to stop."

The U.N. estimates that the Assad regime's military crackdown has killed 3,500 people in the past eight months. November is shaping up to be the bloodiest month of the revolt, with well over 300 people killed so far.

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In early October, Russia and China vetoed a European-backed U.N. Security Council resolution threatened sanctions against Syria if it didn't immediately halt its military crackdown against civilians. It would have been the first legally binding resolution adopted by the council since Assad's military began using tanks and soldiers against protesters in mid-March.

Its defeat reflects the deep divisions in the U.N.'s most powerful body on how to address the ongoing violence in Syria.

Wittig said the General Assembly human rights resolution "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," he said.