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Arab League supports Saudi Arabia rejection of UN Security Council seat

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday declared support of Saudi Arabia's decision to reject a seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) [official website] after several Arab ambassadors criticized the decision earlier this week. The UN awarded Saudi Arabia a two-year position on the UNSC Thursday along with Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria. The Saudi government, however, declined the position [AFP report] Friday and accused the UNSC of applying inconsistent standards and ineffective methods in dealing with the Syrian civil war [JURIST backgrounder]. Reports suggest the Saudi government based its decision partly on the US government's failure to move forward with military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. al-Arabi supported [AFP report] the Saudi government's decision, stating that the UNSC has failed in its efforts to restore peace in several Arab states. In September the UNSC passed a resolution mandating the destruction of al-Assad's chemical weapons cache, but several other resolutions have been stifled by nations supporting al-Assad's regime. No country has ever rejected a UNSC seat, and if the Saudi government does not overturn its decision, the UN General Assembly will vote on new candidates proposed by Asian-Pacific member states.

The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In October JURIST Guest Columnist Patricio Galella argued [JURIST op-ed] that, if diplomacy with Syria fails, and the UNSC is deadlocked, states would face a lasting dilemma: violate international law by using force without UNSC authorization or stay still and confirm the weakness of the UN system of collective security. Also in October a team of disarmament experts from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) began overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons [JURIST report] by the Syrian government, and will verify that the process is correctly handled. In September UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported [JURIST report] that UN inspectors confirmed that "chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale" in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, causing numerous civilian casualties in violation of international law. Also in September Ki-moon questioned [JURIST report] the legality of the US' plan to strike Syria.

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