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In UN GA, Syria Resolution Passes Without Amendments or Non-Payers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 16 -- As the UN General Assembly met Thursday afternoon on the Syria resolution introduced by Egypt, predictions of votes in favor ranged from 130, the minimum number the sponsors said they had commitments for, up to 145.

Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari on his way in told Inner City Press he would seek some clarifications. He did, questioning the agenda item the resolution was brought up under. But the presiding Vice President of the GA, Australia's Permanent Representative, said this is how it goes, and gave the floor to Egypt.

Even so, before the vote, Syria spokes again, as did Venezuela and North Korea -- to say they would vote no - and Grenada, to say they would vote yes with the understanding of no military or other intervention.

When the voting came, three countries complained it had not worked: Burundi, Kygyzstan and Comoros. Therefore as speeches continued after the voting, the "yes" vote count rose from an initial 137 up to 142 as of this writing.

Even so, proponents of the resolution whispered afterward to Inner City Press that eight more countries hadn't been able to vote due to not paying their dues, but would have voted yes. So should the count be 150?

Inner City Press at the stakeout asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant what he thought the vote count would have been on Russia's amendments. He said they had been rejected by the Arab sponsors, and that it wouldn't have made any difference.

When asked about the French "proposal" for humanitarian corridors inside Syria, Lyall Grant said he hasn't seen the proposal.

As French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud left the General Assembly, he was asked to come to the stakeout as Lyall Grant had. He shook his head and walked away -- headlong down, one wag said, his own personal humanitarian corridor.

Araud had come back early from the Council's trip to Haiti, as had his counterparts from Portugal, Colombia and Morocco. US Ambassador Susan Rice remained in Haiti, but issued a statement after the vote. Li Baodong is back in China, but a Chinese minister is traveling for a two day visit to Damascus.

When Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative and Egypt's Deputy PR came to the stakeout, Inner City Press asked about the status of the Arab League nominating the Jordanian businessman Al Khatib for Syria envoy. Egypt's DPR said that the Secretaries General of the UN and Arab League and in touch, and that there will be an Arab League envoy very soon, very probably a joint envoy with the UN.

Saudi's Permanent Representative was asked about Bahrain, and said he wished Assad in Syria had followed Bahrain's example of engaging with opponents. Not all would agree with that; Russia's Vitaly Churkin, for example, has more than once contrasted the US telling Bahrain's opposition not to dare use force to the "mixed messages or worse" sent to opponents in Syria.

Japan's Permanent Representative Nishida came and spoke in Japanese; in English, Inner City Press asked him how the double veto in the Security Council related to Japan's desire for Security Council reform -- that is, for a permanent seat on the Council. Ambassador Nishida called the vetoes disappointing.

In speeches after the vote, Pakistan's Permanent Representative Haroon said that some of Russia's -- and China's -- amendments should have been accepted, not only in the GA but also in the Security Council, where Pakistan also voted yes.

Serbia said it voted yes, but like the Russian amendments. Armenia abstained, with Azerbaijan voting yes. Some for some reason thought Myanmar would vote yes, as another step in its "evolution" -- but it abstained, as did Sri Lanka on which we have have another story - watch this site.

Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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