Saturday, 21 April 2012

UN Security Council Votes on Syria Observer Mission Resolution

With the ongoing violence and massacre of civilians in Syria, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is expected to vote on a resolution that would expand the observer force from 30 to 300 in the embattled country.  The vote is expected to take place at 11 am EDT today. The draft resolution was sent to capitals of council member countries overnight for consideration and final instructions.

The final text calls on the Syrian government and opposition forces to halt fighting immediately and urgently implement the six point peace plan drafted by international envoy Kofi Annan.  The Assad regime, which has agreed to the plan has continued to violate the agreement.


The United Nations Security Council has voted to expand its ceasefire observer mission to Syria and is also demanding an immediate halt to the violence.

Up to 300 unarmed military personnel could be sent in as monitors. Currently there are eight UN observers in Syria. Two more were to arrive by Monday as the UN continues to build a 30-member advance team to oversee the ceasefire agreement, which has failed to stop the bloodshed.

 The Syrian opposition welcomed the UN resolution to send up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria for three months to monitor a fragile week-old ceasefire in a 13-month old conflict. The opposition officials said that the decision meets the "demands of the Syrian people." (AFP)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon accused Assad of violating the agreement. He expressed dismay that the violence has been escalating and claiming more lives.  

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador was hopeful that there would be an unamimous vote.  Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN and current President of the 15 nation council, said that not all council members would agree to the text or would have instructions from their gouvernments.  

While the Europeans wanted to impose a threat of non-military sanctions in the final draft, Russia and China were vehemently opposed to any sanctions against the Assad regime.  The final draft calls for a 300 unarmed military observers and an appropriate civilian component for 90 days, known as UNSMIS.  

The European draft spelled out skills required of civilians, including political, human rights, civil affairs and public security.  Russia wants a limited civilian component.  The difference between the initial agreement and expanded force was whether or not additional conditions should be imposed for the deployment.

It is no secret that this is a dangerous mission for any unarmed observer force.  With Assad's track record of violence, one has to be concerned for the safety of the observers.  UN Secretary will be given the authority to schedule the deployment in accordance with conditions on the ground.

Currently there are seven advance observers in Syria, with an expected 30 advance observers in the country  by next week.  The observers already deployed in Syria are from Morocco, Russia, Brazil, Belgium and Norway.

While there finally seems to be an agreement by the UN, the remainder will depend entirely on the Assad regime.  Hopefully the regime takes heed and works within the letter of the resolution.

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