Russia and China veto ONU resolution on chemical attacks in Syria

A child suffering the consequences of a chemical attack A child suffering the consequences of a chemical attack Reuters

13 March 2017
At the Security Council meeting on 28th February Russia and China vetoed a resolution aimed at imposing sanctions on the warrying parties in Syria over the use of chemical weapons.

The resolution was drafted by the United States, France and the United Kingdom and was backed by nine Security Council members as well as by Italy. Russia, China and Bolivia voted against it, whereas three countries abstained: Egypt, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia.

This draft followed up on a resolution from 2013 co-authored by Russia and the United States, aimed at forbidding the use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria. As a result of this resolution, a Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) was established in 2015 to identify those responsible for chemical attacks. Since then, investigations by the UN have identified the Syrian government and Islamic State militants as responsible.

Russia and China have been heavily criticised for their veto and have been accused of putting the interests of the Assad’s regime ahead of global security concerns. For its part, Russia responded that the draft resolution would have undermined the ongoing peace negotiations and that its position on the matter was well known by Security Council members, suggesting therefore that the vote was a deliberate provocation.

The Italian Permanent Representative, Sebastiano Cardi, also voiced his disappointment over the outcome of the vote. He highlighted the three main reasons why Italy was in favour of the draft resolution: first and foremost, Italy is a priori against the proliferation of chemical weapons, regardless of which political interests are at stake. Second, this resolution was a way to follow up on the good work carried out by the JIM and finally, to identify those responsible for chemical attacks is not sufficient: they must be sanctioned for it.


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