United Nations Security Council adopts a binding resolution on ridding Syria’s chemical weapons

NEWS: The 15-member United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted the draft document agreed earlier by Russia and the US. The vote came after the international chemical watchdog agreed on a plan to destroy Syria’s stockpile by mid-2014.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remarked after the vote, “Tonight the international community has delivered.”
The UN resolution condemns the use of chemical weapons but does not attribute blame. The text has two legally binding demands: that Syria abandon its weapons (chemical) stockpile and that the chemical weapons experts be given unfettered access. Although the draft refers to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows the use of military force, a second resolution authorising such a move would be needed.
The resolution follows the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons (OPCW) agreement to a plan to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal by mid-2014. The OPCW agrees to an accelerated programme for achieving the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014.
The decision requires inspections in Syria to commence from 1 October 2013.

This Security Council resolution gives a flicker of hope that high-politics issues, like Syria’s chemical weapons, could be defused with diplomacy. And that in spite of clashing interests among the Council’s Permanent Members this diplomacy is still possible within the present United Nations structure. This is not to push aside the grin fact that the United Nations decision has come a little late in avoiding the humanitarian disaster in Syria, in effectively cautioning the warring parties in Syria and bringing them to the negotiation table. This delay was in part due to veto wars between the United States, and Russia and China. Samantha Power, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations had remarked that the United Nations Security Council as it is may not be able to deliver on its mandates in our complicated times.
Indeed earlier lack of consensus in the UNSC effectively tied the hands of a rather vexed United States and its willing ally, France, from taking the military option in Syria, even though it faced stiff domestic public opposition.
This resolution presents a real turning point towards the end of the Syrian civil war. First, the resolution is binding, time bound, and could be backed by military force which would require a second UNSC resolution. Going by the OPWC’s plan, this resolution takes effect starting from October 1. The Syrian government must give unfettered access to these chemical experts so that the disarmament could begin in earnest. I do hope that the Syrian government follows through with this process and avoids further escalation of international tension. Russia has expressed its support for the operations and calls on the ‘rebels’ to cooperate as well.
I want to believe that Assad would stay with this commitment, one that is rather easy on him. First, the United Nations has stayed away from attributing blame to any party in the use of chemical weapons. And the clause of a trial at the International Criminal Court against the Syrian government has been edited out. This is a way of giving Assad a clean slate on the use of those weapons. The grounds for regime change against him have been practically removed.
More so, recent developments in Syria where rebel groups have announced that their intention is the establishment of a sharia state and have now affiliated with al Qaeda groups, the United States and its willing allies would want to spend some time rethinking their decision to support ‘moderate’ rebels with military weapons. For now, if Assad abides by this resolution, a political solution is the way forward.
But, gladly and to many people’s relief, it is not only ‘victory’ for Assad and Russia. It is also victory for the United Nations which has proven its capacity to adapt and respond to the complexities of grievous modern humanitarian and security issues. It is also victory for the United States. It does not have to deploy its military forces for the time being. This saves the lives of its military men, as well as precious funds. Most importantly, the United States has been able to prove its point that ‘the world will not stand idly by and look the other way while horrifying events like what happened in Syria on August 21 occur anywhere around the world.’
But a question remains. How far is the international community willing to go in preserving its norms when they are broken and gravely endanger human security? It appears that the international community is still a long way off from seeing the ascendancy of humanitarian norms over geopolitics.
News source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24308763

Further reading:


About Johnson Boyede

Johnson Boyede, B.Sc in International Relations. He wrote 'Addressing terrorism in Nigeria and possible spill over into West Africa' for his Long Essay. He contributes scholarly writings to an open facebook group, 'League of Diplomats'. He agrees and runs with the opinion of Paul Romer that, "Knowledge is a non-rival nature and only partly excludable... In an open society, knowledge's non-rival nature means that a piece of new information can be used over and over again, by different people, in varying contexts and to make new things...one good piece of knowledge will live several lifetimes, undergo different iterations and be put to ever more unique purposes."
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