Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at LIGNET.com.
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
Other elected Member States were Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Saudi Arabia which, along with Nigeria, obtained the required two-thirds majority of Member States present and voting in the 193-member Assembly.
They will join five non-permanent members which are already on the council: Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda, the terms of which will expire at the end of 2014.
The Security Council, which is made up of 15 members, has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The five permanent Council members, each of which holds veto power, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Nigeria’s election, which was really a formality given that she was endorsed by the African Union and by the Economic Community of West African States, came as a surprise to some observers in the country, as she had served in the council as recently as 2010-2011.
The new term, which begins on January 1, 2014, will end on December 31, 2015.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia said Friday it would not take up its rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council, citing “double standards” which it said hampered the world body’s ability to end conflicts.
It is the second time this month that Saudi Arabia has publicly expressed discontent over what it sees as the Security Council’s failure to take action to stop a civil war in Syria that has killed more than 100,000 people.
“The kingdom sees that the method and work mechanism and the double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering its responsibilities towards world peace,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
Saudi Arabia, along with Chad and Nigeria, were elected by the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday to serve a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council as human rights groups called for all three countries to improve their records.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said it was unable to take its seat until reforms were introduced, but did not specify what reforms it wanted.
U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia has been angry over what it says is the failure of the international community to help either Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad or Palestinians seeking an end to more than four decades of Israeli occupation.
The Security Council has been split on how to handle the civil war in Syria, with Western powers pushing for stronger sanctions against Assad and Russia vetoing resolutions to that end. Saudi Arabia has backed the rebels in that conflict.
The Saudis, along with other Arab states, have also often criticized the United States for blocking international action to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
Earlier this month, the Saudi foreign minister canceled a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in frustration over the international inaction on Syria and the Palestinian issue, a diplomatic source said.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
PANAMA CITY — The North Korean crew and ship detained in Panama for smuggling Cuban weapons three months ago will soon be returned to the reclusive Asian nation, Panama’s foreign minister said Thursday.
The crew’s return would mark the end of a bizarre chapter between the three countries that provoked international controversy after the ship was seized in July for smuggling military-style arms under 10,000 tons of sugar.
While the U.N. Security Council has yet to decide on penalties against Cuba, given a 7-year-old ban against arms transfers to North Korea due to the country’s nuclear weapons program, the arms will likely be sold or given away, Nunez Fabrega added.
In July, the North Korean crew sabotaged its electrical system and bilge pumps after Panamanian investigators stopped the ship near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal on suspicion it was carrying drugs after leaving Cuba.
The North Korean flagged ship, known as the Chong Chon Gang, will be returned after the vessel’s owner formally signs off on the plan, Nunez Fabrega said.
Panama has issued visas for two North Korean diplomats to arrive shortly and complete the procedure.
Meanwhile, 33 of the 35 crew members, held at a former U.S. army base on charges of threatening Panama’s security, “appear to be ignorant of what was in the cargo,” Nunez Fabrega said.
“As a result, if the Attorney General determines they are not criminally responsible for their actions, they cannot be prosecuted,” he said.
Both the captain, who tried to slit his throat after Panamanian investigators seized the ship, and his deputy consistently refused to give statements during their detention, officials said. As a result, they might still face trial.
The whole crew refused efforts to put them in contact with their families, said Nunez Fabrega.
“Their families in North Korea must think they sunk with the boat,” he said.
After the ship was seized, Havana requested that Panama release it, claiming the vessel carried only the sugar cargo as a donation to the people of North Korea.
But once the arms were discovered beneath the sugar, the Cuban government acknowledged it was sending “obsolete” Soviet-era weapons, including two MiG jets, 15 MiG engines and nine anti-aircraft missiles, to be repaired in North Korea and returned.
An analysis by 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Maryland, found the weapons shipment was larger than Cuba acknowledged and that many of the weapons were in “mint condition”.
The analysis concluded the arms were intended for North Korea’s own use.
Inspections of the equipment show they were “obviously not obsolete” as Cuba maintained, said Nunez Fabrega.
“One of the jets had kerosene in them, showing it was recently used,” he said. “Of the 15 jet engines, 10 were in immaculate condition.”
Since then, Panama has had “zero” communication with Havana, although it made at least four attempts. Havana also canceled a scheduled meeting between government officials from both countries at the United Nations last month.
“It was like talking to a brick wall,” Nunez Fabrega said.
A six-member U.N. team inspected the weapons in August but still seeks answers from Cuba about the shipment to provide a U.N. sanctions committee a full report.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
When Iran, in the next year or so, finally gets all the parts and pieces together to complete work on their nuclear arsenal, you will have one country and one man to thank for that accomplishment. America will be complicit in allowing Iran to build atomic weapons whose sole purpose is to launch them against Israel, and Barack Obama will be the architect of that evil deed.
From Telegraph UK: The world risks making a ‘historic mistake’ if it eases the pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, warned on the eve of crucial negotiations to resolve the crisis. source – Telegraph UK
From The Hill: The Obama administration said Monday it’s ready to “quickly” lift sanctions on Iran if the country answers the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program. The comments on the eve of new negotiations in Geneva are at odds with the position of many lawmakers of both parties in Congress, who want to increase — not decrease — the pressure on Iran.
“We are quite ready to move,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the negotiations. “If they’re ready to go, we are ready to go. But it depends on what they put on the table.”
“I think that the core sanctions architecture that not only the United States but the entire international community has put in place … all can be addressed if Iran addresses all of our concerns and all of their obligations and responsibilities under the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and U.N. Security Council resolutions,” the official continued.
Asked if that meant that the administration is ready to move “quickly” if Iran does, the official answered: “Yes.” source – The Hill
We re-examine the United States-led intervention in Syria. First, our thesis is that within the context of the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”)’s decision in Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, 1984 ICJ REP. 392 June 27, 1986.—there has actually been “interventions” by the United States and its allies inside the Syrian borders.
Second, we argue that the United Nations General Assembly (“UNGA”) ought to have requested the ICJ to issue an Advisory Opinion on the legality and/or lawfulness of the United States and French-led intervention in Syria.
Third, humanitarian intervention towards preventing genocide and serious violations of humanitarian rights is now a jus cogens, which does not need a United Nations Security Council’s Resolution.
In a nutshell, the UNGA should have taken over the jurisdiction of the Syrian case over and above the need for a Chapter VII Security Council Resolution.
In September 2013, many international law observers had expected a full-blown attack by the United States armed forces against the Assad Syrian government. In an attempt to avoid being dragged into an unpopular military action as occurred in Vietnam and Iraq, President Barrack Obama sought ratification and support from the Congress. In the midst, Vladmir Putin, Russian Head of State offered to negotiate the peaceful surrender of chemical weapons by Assad. Salutory as the efforts to avert military confrontation may seem, international law practitioners are concerned that the rules of international law were not followed and were neither referenced in solving the impasse.
II. Origin of the Syrian Revolution
The Arab Spring consumed the entire Arab world in 2011. A wave of civil wars, revolutionary demonstrations, protests and riots dubbed the “Arab Spring” started in December 2010 and spread across North Africa and into the Middle East in 2011. As of October 2013, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt (twice), Libya, and Yemen. In addition, civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria. Further, major protests broke out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan. We also witnessed minor protests in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and the Palestinian Authority.
Of particular importance is that in March 2011, Pro-democracy protests in Syria started in earnest when a group of 200 mostly young protesters gathered in the Syrian capital Damascus to demand reforms and the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a ‘Day of Rage.’ A Facebook group called “The Syrian Revolution 2011 Syrian revolt against Bashar al-Assad” garnered more than 41,000 fans, while Syrian Twitter users tweeted for the world to pay attention. Video footage emerged showing the protests. Between March 2011 and September the Assad government battled rebels who gained significant inroads into the political control of the Syrian landmass. Then came the use of chemical weapons.
Syria has always had a “long-standing chemical warfare program”, which was first developed in the 1970s. A recent report from the US Congressional Research Service said Syria probably began stockpiling chemical weapons in 1972 or 1973, when it was given a small number of chemicals and delivery systems by Egypt before the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Further, Damascus started acquiring the materials and knowledge necessary to produce chemical weapons in the 1980s, with the help of the Soviet Union. Equipment and chemicals were also procured from European companies. While the exact size of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is not known, in June 2012, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Deputy Chief of Staff Maj Gen Yair Nave described it as “the largest in the world”. In addition, according to a French intelligence assessment published in September 2013, Damascus has more than 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents and precursor chemicals, including:
Several hundreds of tonnes of sulphur mustard
Several hundreds of tonnes of sarin
Several tens of tonnes of VX
According to a report by UN chemical weapons inspectors, there is “clear and convincing evidence” that surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin were fired at suburbs to the east and west of Damascus in an attack on 21 August that killed hundreds of people. Further, according to US, British, French and Israeli officials, there is also evidence that Syrian government forces used sarin against rebels and civilians on several previous occasions. Finally, French intelligence said analysis of samples taken from the northern town of Saraqeb and the Damascus suburb of Jobar in April showed that munitions containing sarin had been deployed.
III. What is “Intervention” Under International Law
To a layman, intervention would be equated to Operation Desert Storm under general Arnold Schwarznopf in 1991 or the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ICJ’s decision in Nicaragua v. United States of America shows that intervention could be direct and/or indirect. Therein, the financing of rebels, aids given to insurgents, military assistance, logistics and instructors. Just as in Nicaragua in 1984, United States aided the Syrian Freedom Fighters, in recruiting, training, arming, equipping, financing, supplying and otherwise encouraging, supporting, aiding, and directing military and paramilitary actions in and against Assad.
Thus, the actual threatened direct full-scale attack against Syria was actually not the initial intervention by the United States.
IV. Right of Humanitarian Intervention
Under contemporary rules of international law, the three paradigmatic cases justifying humanitarian intervention are genocide, slavery and widespread torture. Thus, the notion of jus cogens in international law encompasses the notion of peremptory norms in international law. In this regard, a view has been formed that certain overriding principles of international law exist which form “a body of jus cogens.” These principles are those from which it is accepted that no State may derogate by way of treaty. As a result they are generally interpreted as restricting the freedom of States to contract while ‘voiding’ treaties whose object conflicts with norms which have been identified as peremptory.
Assuming arguendo that the Assad government used chemical weapons against its citizens, then the United States and the allieds are justified in carrying out both direct and indirect attacks against Assad’s regime.
Before the customary international right of humanitarian intervention can be exercised, there are “safeguard factors” to be observed:
• The violation of humanitarian rights is severe
• A large number of people are involved
• More than one state is involved in the use of force
• There is no gain or material self-interest on the part of the intervening states
V. The United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The only problem with the UNSC is the veto right by the permanent members. Under Article 27 of the UN Charter, Security Council decisions on all substantive matters require the affirmative votes of nine members. A negative vote, or veto, also known as the rule of “great power unanimity”, by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required number of affirmative votes (9). Abstention is not regarded as a veto despite the wording of the Charter. Since the Security Council’s inception, China (ROC/PRC) has used its veto 6 times; France 18 times; Russia/USSR 123 times; the United Kingdom 32 times; and the United States 89 times. The majority of Russian/Soviet vetoes were in the first ten years of the Council’s existence. Since 1984, China and France have vetoed three resolutions each; Russia/USSR four; the United Kingdom ten; and the United States 43.
During the Syrian crisis, Russia consistently showed that it would not support armed attack against Syria.
VI. ICJ’s Advisory Opinions
Advisory Opinions were intended as a means by which UN agencies could seek the ICJ’s help in deciding complex legal issues that might fall under their respective mandates. Advisory Opinions were intended as a means by which UN agencies could seek the ICJ’s help in deciding complex legal issues that might fall under their respective mandates.
Based on the Syrian impasse, this author’s view is that the only alternative is the use of the United Nations General Assembly requesting the ICJ to issue an Advisory Opinion on the legality and/or lawfulness of the United States and French-led intervention in Syria. It has been argued that even though the Security Council is probably seized of the Syrian matter, that doesn’t prevent the General Assembly from asking the ICJ for an opinion on whether there is a general right to humanitarian intervention, or whether member states can use force in the absence of a Chapter VII Security Council Resolution.
Generally, the United nations General Assembly requests an advisory opinion. On receiving a request, the ICJ decides which States and organizations might provide useful information and gives them an opportunity to present written or oral statements. While, in principle, the ICJ’s advisory opinions are only consultative in character, they are influential and widely respected. The legal reasoning embodied in them reflects the ICJ ‘s authoritative views on important issues of international law and, in arriving at them, the ICJ follows essentially the same rules and procedures that govern its binding judgments delivered in contentious cases submitted to it by sovereign states.
It is clear that Assad regime will not hand over the chemical weapons in its possession. With compelling evidence of violations of anti-genocide and anti-torture laws, the United States and Syria submit the matter to the ICJ as to whether the current levels of intervention should be elevated to “direct armed strike” by US armed forces against the Syrian territory. The advantage is that an advisory opinion will produce a reasoned judgment as to the current state of the laws towards balancing demands of non-interference and prevention of humanitarian violations.
The United Nations Charter of 1945 certainly could not have envisaged the capability of nuclear and chemical attacks of 2013.
Dr. Theophilus Olusegun Obayemi, II is the author of Legal Standards Governing Pre-Emptive Strikes and Forcible Measures of Anticipatory Self-Defense under the U.N. Charter and General International Law, 12 ANNUAL SURVEY OF INTERNATIONAL & COMPARATIVE LAW, 19 (SPRING 2006)
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters
At 53 Nigeria has faced some challenges of nationhood, similar to what other great nations had or have faced. While one is concerned by the recurring disturbing and negative trends that dampen the spirit of writing positively about the country, Nigeria’s greatness is in its abundant human and material resources.
Having had the opportunity of traveling to some great countries, I am amazed by accomplishments of Nigerians who are highly regarded in various spheres of human endeavour. We are not unmindful of the fact that very few vagabonds among the citizens give the nation a bad name due to their corrupt tendencies and criminalities that, to some extent, exacerbate insecurity in the land.
Meanwhile, not minding what others will say about Nigeria’s quest to becoming a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the country has made positive impact in international diplomacy and peacekeeping operations. This argument was re-echoed by President Goodluck Jonathan when asked world leaders to support the country’s quest to be a member of the UNSC.
Speaking at the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, President Jonathan said Nigeria’s commendable performance on previous occasions when it held a non-permanent seat on the Security Council should assure the global community that the country deserved to be elected to the council again for the 2014-2015 session. He also called for faster action towards the democratisation of the Security Council as many countries are concerned about the lack of progress in the reformation of the United Nations.
A casual observer may not attach significant importance to the clamour for special seat at the United Nations, after all, only few countries call the shots in the global political arena in the United Nations in the name of Veto-Power. The permanent members who have the veto power are America, Britain, China, France and Russia. They solely wield the so-called “veto power”, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. With such power they can do anything no matter what other nations consider and propose.
The Permanent Members top the list of countries with the highest military expenditures as they spend an average of US$1 trillion combined annually on defense, accounting for large percentage of global military expenditures. They are largest arms exporters and the only nations officially recognised as “nuclear-weapon states” under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though there are other countries believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.
There is also G4 Nations of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil who are clamouring to become members too. Meanwhile two seats are to be reserved for Africa, where Nigeria is in contention with Egypt and South Africa for the coveted membership.
Apart from the five permanent members, there are ten non-permanent members, elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms who take turn at holding the presidency of the Security Council on a monthly basis.
Sentiments apart, Nigeria deserves the membership than any other African country because of its significant roles in global politics. It is the largest single contributor to UN global security engagements in Africa. It played greater roles in the ending colonialism in several African countries including Angola, Namibia, South-Africa, Zimbabwe and still remains the main force in the regional ECOWAS/Ecomog, which actively intervened in resolving and stabilising war-ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.
In addition Nigeria’s military have been deployed as peace keepers under UN and ECOWAS arrangements in former Yugoslavia, Angola, Rwanda, Lebanon, Somalia, Iran-Iraq, East Timor, Dafur-Sudan, Congo and Sierra Leone and later Mali. In some of the foreign operations, Nigerian officers served as chiefs of defence in other countries or Command Officer-in-Charge of military operations.
The country has a unique and enviable demographic position, human and natural resources, which are brought to bear on sub-regional, continental and global affairs. The country is Africa’s leading oil and gas producer and with population of over 170 million making it the most populous black nation on earth and seventh most populous country in the world. It is a plural society with multi-ethnic and multi-religious diversity.
I believe Nigeria should adopt an appropriate strategy in pursuing the quest for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. Since it has received the endorsement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), Nigeria should work with other regions for strategic alliances for the success of the campaign.
We have always being a big brother, this is the time for others to support our aspirations.
Yushau a. Shuaib
Finance Estate, Wuye
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters
The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday that demands the eradication of Syria’s chemical weapons but does not threaten automatic punitive action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s government if it does not comply.
The unanimous vote by the 15-member Security Council ended weeks of intense diplomacy between Russia and the United States. It was based on a deal between the two countries reached in Geneva earlier this month following an Aug. 21 sarin nerve gas attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds.
The U.S.-Russia deal averted punitive U.S. military action against Assad’s government, which Washington blamed for the August attack. The Syrian government and its ally, Russia, blamed anti-government rebels for the attack.
One provision of the resolution, described by council diplomats as significant, formally endorses a plan for a political transition in Syria agreed on at an international conference in Geneva in June 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama earlier called the draft U.N. resolution a “potentially huge victory for the international community” and described it as legally binding, verifiable and enforceable.
A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the resolution deflected attention from Obama’s wavering on the Syrian conflict. “For the U.S., this resolution turns the attention away from its powerlessness,” he said.
Assad agreed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons following global outrage over a sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs last month – the world’s deadliest chemical attack in 25 years.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia continued to work “energetically” to help convene Syria peace talks.
“People continue to die and peaceful civilians suffer every day in Syria,” he told the U.N. General Assembly. “Virtually the only possibility today to put an end to this turmoil is to move from a deadlock to the process of political settlement of the Syrian crisis.”
As a precursor to the U.N. vote, the 41-member Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons approved a decision in The Hague on Friday laying out procedures to rapidly verify and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. The decision will see inspectors sent to Syria starting on Tuesday.
The five big U.N. powers ended weeks of diplomatic deadlock on Thursday by agreeing to the draft Security Council resolution.
Until recently, the council has been paralyzed on how to deal with the Syrian civil war. Russia, backed by China, has vetoed three resolutions since October 2011 that would have condemned Assad’s government and threatened it with sanctions.
Western powers on the Security Council conceded they had backed away from many of their initial demands during negotiations. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed a victory, saying Moscow had stood its ground on opposing any threats of military force against Syria.
A major sticking point had been Russia’s opposition to writing the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which covers its authority to enforce its decisions with measures such as sanctions or military force.
The compromise resolution makes the measure legally binding, but provides for no means of automatic enforcement if Syria fails to comply, as the United States, Britain and France originally wanted.
“No concessions have been made,” Ryabkov told Voice of Russia radio. “The main thing is that the automatic use of Chapter 7 has been ruled out.”
France’s Fabius told reporters, “We shall see in the coming days and weeks if the Russians are really coherent with what they proposed and the vote … we will need to be vigilant on the action or inaction of Syria.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power described the draft resolution as “very significant” because, when adopted, it would be the first time during the conflict that the council had imposed binding obligations on Assad.
“Taking chemical weapons away from a regime that just used chemical weapons … is a very intense form of accountability,” Power said on Thursday. “I don’t think anybody can discount the role that the threat of limited military action played in expediting and catalyzing this conversation.”
Obama has asked Congress to authorize the use of limited military strikes to punish Assad for the Damascus gas attack. The deal between Russia and the United States to rid Syria of its chemical weapons averted those strikes for now.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said he was pleased the draft resolution called for “accountability” for those responsible for the chemical attacks. He added, however, that he would have liked a reference to the International Criminal Court in The Hague – something diplomats said Russia opposed.
To impose further measures, like sanctions or military action, on the Syrian government for non-compliance with the chemical weapons deal, the Security Council would need to agree on a second resolution.
The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed in the civil war, after the government tried to crush pro-democracy protests, and more than half of Syria’s 20 million people need help.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said a deal was struck with Russia “legally obligating” Syria to give up its chemical stockpile and the measure would go to the full Security Council on Thursday night. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said an “understanding” had been hammered out.
The United States had been negotiating on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly with Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s chief ally. The aim was to craft a measure to demand the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal in line with a U.S.-Russian deal reached earlier this month that averted American military strikes on Syria in the midst of Syria’s civil war.
Western powers on the Security Council backed away from many of their initial demands, diplomats say, in order to secure Russia’s approval.
A major sticking point between Russia and Western powers was whether the resolution would be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which covers the council’s authority to enforce its decisions with measures such as sanctions or military force.
The compromise draft resolution, seen by Reuters, makes the measure legally binding but provides for no means of automatic enforcement with sanctions or military force. Originally, the United States, Britain and France had wanted the resolution to state explicitly that it was under Chapter 7.
The only reference to enforcement in the draft is a threat that if Syria fails to comply with the resolution, the council would impose punitive measures under Chapter 7, which would require a second resolution that Russia could veto.
A U.S. State Department official hailed the deal as a “breakthrough.”
“The Russians have agreed to support a strong, binding and enforceable resolution that unites the pressure and focus of the international community on the Syrian regime to ensure the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons,” the official said.
The U.N. Security Council will hold a closed-door session to debate the issue at 8 p.m. (0000 GMT), the French delegation said. A vote on Thursday was not expected, one diplomat said.
Diplomats from the permanent Security Council members – China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain – had been haggling over the details of a resolution to back the American-Russian accord announced on Sept. 14 in Geneva to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.
Assad agreed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons in line with the U.S.-Russian agreement in the wake of that sarin gas strike on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus last month – the world’s deadliest chemical arms attack in 25 years.
Washington has blamed Assad’s forces for the attack, which it said killed more than 1,400 people, and President Barack Obama threatened a U.S. military strike in response.
Russia and Assad have blamed the attack on rebels battling to overthrow him in a civil war that, according to the United Nations, has left more than 100,000 people dead.
A senior U.S. official said earlier that the United States and China – another permanent Security Council member – strongly agreed on the need for the council to quickly adopt a binding resolution on eradicating Syria’s chemical arsenal, a remark that appeared aimed at putting pressure on Russia to accept the measure.
Russia at first appeared unswayed. When asked earlier in the day if diplomats were close to a deal on a Syria resolution, Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations, “Russia’s very close, the U.S. is not.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for about an hour on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
“On Syria, both ministers were in strong agreement on the need for a mandatory and binding U.N. Security Council resolution,” said the senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, after the meeting.
“They discussed the value of unity among the P5 (five permanent members of the Security Council) and both felt it is important for the council to act quickly and for OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) to similarly act quickly,” the official said.
China has backed Russia to veto three council resolutions since October 2011 that would have condemned Assad’s government and threatened it with sanctions.
Western diplomats say that Beijing has little reason to support Assad but is eager to ensure Russia will continue to back it in the Security Council on issues like North Korea.
“China follows Russia on Syria,” a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
Assad’s government last week disclosed to a U.N.-backed weapons watchdog the extent of its arsenal, meeting the first deadline of the ambitious disarmament deal that calls for the weapons to be eliminated by June 2014.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Russia is ready to help guard Syrian chemical weapons sites and destroy Assad’s stockpiles but will not ship any of the chemical arms to Russia for destruction.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
President Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday, in New York made a strong case for Nigeria‘s election to the United Nations Security Council, just as South African President, Jacob Zuma backed the Nigerian president‘s call for democratisation of the UN Security Council.
Addressing the world leaders and other delegates at the opening of the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, President Jonathan declared that Nigeria’s commendable performance on previous occasions when it held a non-permanent seat on the security council, should assure the global community that the country deserved to be elected to the council again for the 2014-2015 session.
“Our support for the United Nations Security Council in its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security has been total and unwavering.
“We have, in previous membership of the Council, demonstrated both the political will and capacity to engage in key responsibilities.
A statement by the President Adviser on Media, Dr Reuben Abati, quoted the President as saying, “I am pleased to state that Nigeria has received the endorsement of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union. We, therefore, urge this August Assembly to endorse Nigeria’s candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.”
Democratisation of Security Council members
The President also called for faster action towards the democratisation of the Security Council, saying that Nigeria and other developing countries were concerned about the lack of progress in the reformation of the United Nations.
President Jonmathan said: “I believe that I express the concern of many about the slow pace of effort and apparent lack of progress in the reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council. We believe strongly, that the call for democratization worldwide should not be for States only, but also, for International Organisations such as the United Nations.
“That is why we call for the democratization of the Security Council. This is desirable for the enthronement of justice, equity, and fairness; and also for the promotion of a sense of inclusiveness and balance in our world.”
Backing Jonathan’s call, South African President Jacob Zuma criticised the United Nations Security Council as ‘outdated’ and ‘undemocratic’ ahead of a world leaders’ meeting in New York, according to a report yesterday. The current Security Council “might have by now outlived its usefulness”, Zuma said at the UN.
Developing nations have called for reform of the Security Council, which has since World War II accorded veto rights on substantive resolutions to five permanent members, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China.
“You have a situation where those who possess the power of veto talk more war than peace,” Zuma told South African newsmen at the outset of the UN General Assembly meeting this week.
“You have a minority that has the last word and unfortunately is no longer helping. It is actually becoming part of the problem,” he said, decrying the Council’s actions over conflicts in Iraq and Libya over the past 10 years.
“As small countries we believe the arrangement is unfair, it is undemocratic, it’s not good any more.”
Terrorism threat to global peace, security
Noting that the world continues to be confronted with many serious challenges, President Jonathan called for a renewed and concerted effort by the international community to effectively resolve issues that currently impede global peace, stability and progress.
“Our world continues to be confronted by pressing problems and threats. No statement that will be made during this session can exhaust the extent of these problems. The world looks to us, as leaders, to provide hope in the midst of crisis, to provide guidance through difficult socio-political divisions, and to ensure that we live in a better world.
“We have obligations to the present generation, but we have a greater obligation to generations yet unborn who should one day inherit a world of sufficiency irrespective of the circumstances of their birth or where they reside on the globe. We must work to make that world a reality in recognition of our common heritage.
“We must dedicate ourselves to working together to address global, regional and national challenges and deliver a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous world for all. It is our duty. We must not fail”,” President Jonathan declared.
The President also restated his called for the international community to confront the menace of global terrorism with greater resolve and determination.
“Terrorism constitutes a major threat to global peace and security, and undermines the capacity for sustained development. In Nigeria, the threat of terrorism in a few States in the North Eastern part of our country has proven to be a major challenge to national stability. We are therefore confronting it with every resource at our disposal with due regard for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.
The reign of terror anywhere in the world is an assault on our collective humanity. Three days ago, the stark reality of this menace was again brought to the fore by the dastardly terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. We must stand together to win this war together,” President Jonathan said.
Jonathan reinstates commitment to MDGs
The President said there will be more commitment to millennium development goals by his administration.
“There have been several conflicts with devastating consequences in virtually all regions of the world, as global citizens; we have a sacred duty to free our world of wars, rivalries, ethnic conflicts and religious division.
“Our collective efforts in our drive for a better world will continue to bind us together”.
Realising the need to sustain peace in Nigeria beyond the year 2015, Jonathan said he is committed to building systems that will see that the conflicts and insecurity confronting the nation doesn’t pull it apart.
“Mr. President, Nigeria continues to support the efforts of the United Nations in addressing the global initiatives to combat the menace of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
“We have redoubled efforts to address this arduous challenge within our borders and across the West African sub-region. In doing so, we also recognised the need for a God-based global partnership in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy
“It is regrettable that these scourges are sustained by concerted assets by non-state actors to illicit small arms and light weapons with which they foster insecurity and instability across the continent
Arms Trade Treaty
“For us in Africa, these are the weapons of mass destruction; it is therefore in the light of our collective obligations and unseasoned struggle to end this nightmare that I congratulate member states on the adoption of the arms treaty in April this year
“Our hope is that, upon the entry into force, the arms treaty will herald an era of accountable trade in conventional arms, which is critical to the security of nations”
The President welcomed Nigeria’s selection as co-Chair of the United Nations Expert Committee on Financing Sustainable Development.
“The importance of this Committee’s assignment cannot be overstated. For the post-2015 development agenda to be realistic, it must be backed by a robust financing framework which I hope will receive the strong backing of our organisation’s more endowed members,” he said.
President Jonathan congratulated UN member-states on the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty.
“Our hope is that upon its entry into force, the ATT would herald an era of accountable trade in conventional arms which is critical to the security of nations,” the President said.
Jonathan condemns use of chemical weapons in Syria
He condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in the Syrian crisis and welcomed current diplomatic efforts to avert a further escalation of the crisis in the country.
President Jonathan also urged world leaders to adopt measures and policies that will promote nuclear disarmament, protect and renew the world’s environment, and push towards an international system that is based on trust, mutual respect and shared goals.
Source: Radio Biafra.