Syria vote may prove costly for three countries seeking more UN clout
Brazil, India, and South Africa all abstained in the Security Council vote condemning violence in Syria. That could cost them some support in their bids for council membership.
Russia’s and China’s vetoes of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the deadly state-sponsored violence in Syria disappointed the Obama administration, but were not a complete surprise.Skip to next paragraph
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But the abstentions cast by three of the council’s rotating members in the vote Tuesday evening – Brazil, India, and South Africa – raised a lot of eyebrows and are likely to have deep and long-lasting repercussions for the workings of the international community.
That’s because the three are aspirants for permanent seats in an envisioned Security Council expansion. As a result, world powers like the US that will ultimately decide who joins the world’s most exclusive – and arguably most powerful – international peace and security club are taking careful note of aspirants’ actions for clues as to how they might use enlarged international powers.
The Syria resolution achieved the minimum nine favorable votes, but was doomed by the rare Russia-China double veto. Lebanon also abstained.
Russia and China may have viewed the abstentions favorably for future reference, but for Western powers and their supporters who increasingly view advancing of a set of universal human rights as a key part of the council’s job, the three rising powers’ vote was troubling.
“By abstaining, [Brazil, India, and South Africa] have not only failed the Syrian people, but [have] also failed to offer a credible alternative to end the bloodshed,” says Philippe Bolopion, UN director of Human Rights Watch in New York. “This vote erodes their credibility in the global arena and might come to define their tenure in the Security Council and undermine their claim to permanent membership.”
Expansion of the 15-member Security Council has been discussed for years, with proponents of reform arguing that a council make-up that reflects the post-World War II map no longer serves the 21st-century world of emerging powers. The five veto-wielding permanent members include France and Great Britain, but no Asian member other than China and no country from the Southern Hemisphere.