The UN Security Council Divided: Syria in Crisis

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Gifkins, J (2012)

The UN Security Council has been deeply divided over how to respond to the Arab Spring crisis in Syria. Since the uprising began in Syria in March 2011 the Syrian Government has responded with extreme violence against civilians and civilian areas to suppress protests. In the face of escalating violence, the Security Council has experienced protracted deadlock. Divisions on how to interpret the situation in Syria left the Security Council unable to find consensus on issuing a non-binding Presidential Statement for the first five months of the crisis. Subsequent disagreement on what measures to take to address the violence has led to two vetoed resolutions on the divisive issues of sanctions and regime change. The vetoes occurred in October 2011 and in February 2012, vetoed by both Russia and China. More than a year into the crisis the Security Council authorised a team of unarmed UN military observers to be deployed in Syria in a rare moment of consensus on this issue. However this lowest-common-denominator response was quickly suspended due to high levels of violence against UN observers. Throughout the stalemate in the Security Council violence against Syrian civilians continued to escalate.
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