UNITED NATIONS - A new resolution referring Syrian war crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) was double vetoed by Russia and China in the UN Security Council on Thursday.
The resolution was drafted by France and was supported by more than 60 member states. The resolution was designed to seek justice under international law against all perpetrators, regardless of their affiliation, in the more than three-year-old Syrian war.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the council before the vote that the Syrian people deserve justice like any other. He asked the council to show unity and "put an end to this long nightmare" in Syria.
“Since the outbreak of the war in Syria, I have persistently called for accountability for perpetrators of grave human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Eliasson said. “The recent attacks against humanitarian convoys and personnel, which may constitute war crimes, add to the urgent need to see action now on accountability in Syria.”
Eliasson added the Security Council has an inescapable responsibility.
“States that are members of both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council have a particular duty to end the bloodshed and to ensure justice for the victims of unspeakable crimes,” he said.
More than 130,000 people have been killed in the three-year war and nine million Syrians are displaced with some 2.5 million seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, according to the UN.
The London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has accused Syrian government forces of having used around 1370 barrel bombs that have killed more than 947 citizens, including 189 children.
Amnesty International said the actions of China and Russia in using their veto on the resolution portrayed “a callous political move that betrays the suffering people in Syria.”
“The resolution would have sent an important message that these horrific crimes cannot be committed with impunity,” said Philip Luther of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International.
Amnesty International said Russia and China “have abandoned the Syrian people for the sake of salvaging political alliances.”
“Not only does this move risk emboldening those who are committing crimes with impunity but it is yet another sign of how the international community is failing Syrians,” according to the international human rights group.
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