Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

UN 'should endorse Syria sanctions'

Supporters of the Syrian government protest against Arab League sanctions in Damascus (AP)

The United Nations Security Council should endorse the Arab League's weekend decision to slap sanctions on Syria for its eight-month crackdown on civilians, Germany has declared.

Germany's ambassador Peter Wittig said: "The decision of the Arab League was a really remarkable if not historic decision.

"It was a reaction to the brutal crackdown and the message of course is clear. If (President Bashar) Assad doesn't heed the call, then there will be biting sanctions.

"I think the council cannot stand idly by regarding what the regional organisation has said so strongly: the council should take up that decision and endorse and reinforce it. We are going to deliberate about this in the course of the day."

US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said "it is time to revisit the question" of possible action by the security council, of which Germany is among the 15 members. "We certainly will be talking with partners inside and outside the council," she added.

The Arab League actions include cutting off transactions with Syria's central bank, and would further squeeze a national economy already under sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union.

No formal action regarding Syria was on the Monday agenda for the Security Council, which was holding meetings on Yemen and Libya.

Last month, Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution condemning the bloodshed in Syria, arguing that Nato misused a previous mandate authorising the use of force in Libya.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said his country had not changed its position on Syria.

The UN General Assembly's human rights committee last week voted overwhelmingly to condemn human rights violations by Assad's government and called for an immediate end to all violence. Howeber, the resolution is non-binding.