Failing the Syria Test

The veto by China and Russia of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violence in Syria underscores grave divisions within the international community. It also suggests that changes in global governance must not be limited to economic policymaking.

MADRID – On October 2nd in Istanbul, Syria’s disparate opposition movements gave the go-ahead for the formation of a “Syrian National Council.” This is the most important step yet taken by the fragmented forces that have been trying since May to lead a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The Council’s formation boosted the morale of those who have been demanding stronger and more unified representation.

But a mere two days after its creation, the embryonic Council suffered its first big setback. France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Portugal, in collaboration with the United States, presented a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council seeking to condemn repression in Syria and put an end to the use of force against civilians.

The draft was a sugarcoated version of a previous text, proposed last June. This one contained nebulous terms such as “specific measures” or “other options.” It stressed the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Syria, and emphasized the need to resolve the current crisis peacefully, by means of an inclusive political process – and called for a national dialogue led from within the country. The draft called for a 30-day period to study the options, up from 15 days in the earlier draft.

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