|Russian Envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin at a UN press conference on the French resolution on Syria on October 8 (Photo: AFP)
The meeting took place amidst escalating attacks on Aleppo and mounting tensions between Russia and the US. Passing a draft resolution requires 9 “yes” votes and no veto from any of the 5 UNSC permanent members: Russia, the US, the UK, France, and China.
Division over Syria
Russia and France proposed separate resolutions on settling the Syrian conflict. The French proposal called for all parties to immediately halt all airstrikes and military flights over Aleppo, observe a ceasefire and allow access of humanitarian aid to every Syrian community. The French resolution won the approval of 11 out of 15 UNSC members, but was vetoed by Russia. Moscow said its airstrikes are target at terrorist groups and do no harm to civilians. Before the vote, Russia said the resolution politicizes the humanitarian issues. This was Russia’s 5th veto of a UN resolution on Syria in the 5 years of the Syrian war.
The Russian proposal called for a ceasefire, but did not mention ending the airstrikes. It received a majority of ‘no” votes, including vetoes by the UK, France, and the US.
The meeting’s atmosphere was described as unconstructive. Representatives from the US, the UK, and France walked out while the Syrian Ambassador was delivering his speech.
It’s rare for a UNSC meeting to propose 2 draft resolutions and disapprove both. The Russian envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, called the October 9 vote was one of the most bizarre scenes in the history of the UN Security Council. The Syrian crisis needs a coordinated political effort by the international community, and the current differences are a tragic waste of time. No resolution on Syria will be passed until Russia and the US find some common ground.
Hope for diplomatic efforts
Churkin, whose country is the rotating President of the UNSC this month, said abandoning diplomatic efforts is not an option and he hoped an answer can be found soon.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Eyrault confirmed that negotiations with Russia will continue. Speaking on Germany’s DW TV which will be broadcast on October 12, UN chief Ban Ki Moon said that the UN needs to work harder to end the tragedy the Syrian people are suffering. He called on the UNSC to work in a more democratic, transparent, and representative manner.