UN extends Syria mission; Pakistan helps build consensus on draft

English: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi...

English: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan uploaded to the English Wikipedia by User:Hajor. Photograph copied from the website of Agência Brasil, which states: :The Agência Brasil makes images and photos available free of charge. To comply with existing law, we kindly request our users to list the credits as in the example: photographer’s name/ABr. This photo appeared as 11160.jpg on 14.Nov.2003. The photo was downloaded, cropped, and resized by Hajor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An enlargeable map of the Syrian Arab Republic

An enlargeable map of the Syrian Arab Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Iftikhar Ali  

 

 

 

UNITED NATIONS,  July 20 : The U.N. Security Council Friday unanimously approved a resolution to extend the U.N. observer force in Syria for a final 30 days, after Pakistan helped bridge the differences over the way forward to deal with the Syrian crisis.

The 15-member Council did so by adopting a revised British resolution which said the council would end the observer mission in 30 days but renew it if Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council confirm that the use of heavy weapons has ended and the level of violence in Syria is reduced.

The mandate of the mission had been set to expire Friday.

The Council stood deadlocked on Thursday after Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have imposed U.N. sanctions on the Syrian government to pressure it into implementing a peace plan to halt the 17-month-old conflict.

With the Syrian situation taking a dangerous turn, the Pakistan delegation, led by Acting Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar, stepped in to help maintain support for UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan‘s six-point peace plan to end violence in Syria and to build consensus in the Council on a way forward, according Council sources.

As part of the effort, the Pakistani delegation circulated a draft seeking a 45-day extension for the UN observer force as Pakistan believes, like many other delegates, that the Annan’s plan was the best option to resolve the Syrian conflict.

The British delegation produced a competing draft authorizing a final extension of 30 days, but its contents were weighted against the Syrian government. The draft would undoubtedly have invoked Russian and Chinese vetoes.

In this situation, the council members met privately before the formal session on Friday. Pakistan made an impassioned for the Council’s unity in the face of the deteriorating situation in Syria. Some other delegations also backed Pakistan’s call and the British agreed to amend their text.

A key amendment proposed by Pakistan and worked into the resolution was that the Security Council call for the cessation of violence by “all sides”.

After the brief Council meeting in which the vote was taken, several diplomats expressed their appreciation to Ambassador Tarar for facilitating the consensus.

The Council established UNSMIS in April with an initial 90-day mandate. The Mission had recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence in the country, where over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.

UNSMIS was tasked with monitoring the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitoring and supporting the full implementation of the six-point UN peace plan.

That plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.

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