UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution Condemning Syria
The 193-nation UN General Assembly ratcheted up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday by overwhelmingly approving a resolution that endorses an Arab League plan calling for him to step aside.
The resolution, similar to one Russia and China vetoed in the Security Council on Feb. 4, received 137 votes in favor, 12 against and 17 abstentions, though three countries said their votes failed to register on the electronic board.
Russia and China were among those opposing the resolution, which was drafted by Saudi Arabia and submitted by Egypt on behalf of Arab states. Unlike in the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, but its decisions lack the legal force of council resolutions.
“Today the UN General Assembly sent a clear message to the people of Syria - the world is with you,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement.
“An overwhelming majority of UN member states have backed the plan put forward by the Arab League to end the suffering of Syrians,” she said. “Bashar al-Assad has never been more isolated.”
The resolution said the assembly “fully supports” the Arab League plan aimed at halting Syria’s 11-month crackdown on anti-Assad demonstrators and urges UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special envoy to Syria.
It also condemns Damascus for “widespread and systematic violations of human rights” and calls for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from towns and cities. The United Nations says more than 5,400 civilians have been killed in the uprising.
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari rejected the resolution, telling the assembly it was part of a plot to overthrow Syria’s government and allow the “terrorist” opposition to take over the country.