UNSC Syria Resolution Vetoed: Double or No Standards?

I have previously blogged about the reference of the Syrian situation to the ICC by the UNSC (here) and how the political nature of international criminal justice mars its purport and essence (here).

The protracted violence and deaths in Syria has been a cause for concern, with the Security Council also having condemned it in the past. However, while voting on adoption of a resolution that condemned “grave and systematic human rights violations” in Syria and entailed threat of measures under the U.N. Charter against Syria, both Russia and China vetoed it [much to the exasperation of the US (calling it a ‘ruse’) and European nations, who pushed for the resolution in the first place].

Russia’s reasons for the veto were that although they did not support the Syrian regime, the resolution would make onerous a peaceful resolution of the dispute (“ Russia does not agree with the unilateral accusatory bias against Damascus.”). Whereas China believed the resolution will only complicate the matter. (see here).

Mark Kersten writes that the veto was not surprising as the situation surrounding Syria is much different that what happened with Libya. Also, that the expectation that a new norm of international politics for intervention to protect human lives and human rights would take shape after the unanimous resolution against Libya was quite far-fetched. In fact, that the West was rebuffed by China and Russia was a direct concomitant of what happened after the Libyan resolution.

Although consensus in the international community is hard to come by, in matters that require concerted action, political calculations play a major role. The major powers will stand united on pressing matters only if their interests are served and accommodated. What is questionable is the organized hypocrisy behind international considerations – which is a not a new phenomenon.



The Political Nature of International Criminal Justice

The Justice in Conflict blog has recently posted an excellent post about how international criminal justice suffers due to the uneven application of law owing to a highly politicized referral system of the UN Security Council.

Something similar to what I have argued in my paper titled “A Synergistic Failure between the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court”.

This paper is divided into three parts – Part I deals with the provisions relating to the relationship between the UNSC and the ICC as has been envisaged in the Rome Statute of the ICC; Part II deals with the practical situations when the
relationship has been tested or powers have been exercised by the UNSC in respect of international peace and security vis-a-vis the ICC; Part III examines the successes or failures of the relationship between the two international bodies and will explore the possibility of whether the synergy between the bodies can be enhanced and made more effective.

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by UNHRC

The UNHRC has adopted the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework” that was submitted by John Ruggie, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights.

The Guiding Principles (found here) do not have any binding effect on any State nor do they create any new international law obligations. However, John Ruggie believes that the UNHRC endorsement of the Principles will establish them as a global reference point for human rights and business and they will provide civil society, investors and others the tools to measure real progress in the daily lives of people.

These Guiding Principles are grounded in recognition of:

  1. States’ existing obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  2. The role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights;
  3. The need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached.

These Guiding Principles (31 in all) apply to all States and to all business enterprises, both transnational and others, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure.

The implications of these Guiding Principles for lawyers was discussed in a recent panel discussion, the summary of which can be found here.

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