The UN General Assembly [official website] voted on Thursday to condemn Syria [JURIST news archive] through a non-binding resolution [press release]. The resolution supports a plan [text, PDF, in Arabic] advanced by the Arab League [official website] that aims to bring the situation in Syria to a close as quickly as possible by encouraging President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to step down. There were 12 votes against the resolution [UN News Centre report] including Russia, China, Iran and Bolivia.
By other terms of the text adopted today, the Assembly expressed its full support for the Arab League's decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system, including through a "serious political dialogue between the [Syrian Government] and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition." Reaffirming its strong commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, it further reaffirmed that all Member States "should refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State."Amendments by Russia that "proposed to place reasonable demands on opposition forces to disassociate themselves from armed groups and to demand that those groups themselves stop their attacks" were rejected. In response to the resolution, the representative for Syria called the resolution and the Arab League's actions a "Trojan horse," and argued that the Arab League is now controlled primarily by Western oil companies. He also stated that his country is responding to calls for reform, specifically noting a recently announced referendum for a new constitution [JURIST report].
The growing unrest in Syria has drawn copious international attention recently. Earlier this week, both UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [JURIST reports], called for an end to the violence in Syria, with Pillay asking the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Pillay urged an investigation of Syrian government and military officials for possible crimes against humanity. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) claimed earlier in February that the past 11 months of violence in Syria have led to the deaths of hundreds of children [JURIST report]. In January, Ban demanded [JURIST report] that al-Assad end violence against Syrian civilians. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that more than 5,000 people have died since anti-government protests began last March.