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MH17 Resolution Vetoed by Russia, 3 Abstain, Australia's Vow Before Vote

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 -- After threatening to call the vote on a proposed tribunal on the downing of flight MH17 in the UN Security Council on July 21 and then July 27, on July 29 the vote took place, on this resolution.

  As expected, Russia vetoed, and three countries abstained: China, Angola and Venezuela.

 Before the vote, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stopped and told reporters:

  “We have met with and spoken with members of the Security Council upon a number of occasions and I remain optimistic that this resolution will pass. We have received expressions of support from a majority of the members of the Security Council. Should Russia exercise its veto it would be an affront to the families of those aboard MH17, for the UN Security Council has already demanded that those responsibility be held to account, and that all states cooperate, and they should be cooperating in determining that accountability. So, I’m not optimistic that justice will be done and should the resolution not be adopted today, we will not be swayed from the power of determination to bring justice to the families and loved ones who lost their cherished family and friends aboard Malaysian Airlines MH17.

   “We have had a very significant level of support expressed by a majority of the members. I won’t get down to numbers but I’m awed by the level of support we have had and indeed, 18 nations have indicated that they would cosponsor our resolution. That includes not only members of the Security Council b ut also other nations who lost citizens and residents aboard that ill-fated flight. We had a very positive meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki moon this morning. He expressed his support for what we were doing. He expressed his gratitude for the joint investigation team who’ve been carrying out the preliminary investigation to date, the Dutch safety board and the other relevant safety boards who’ve been conducting investigations into the safety aspects of this tragedy. And he assured us that should the issue of justice not be achieved today it will be tomorrow."

   “We will continue to hope, and advocate for support for this resolution today. Should it not be achieved, the joint investigation team will continue in our resolve to obtain justice for the families, and we will come up with an alternative mechanism. But our focus today is on achieving what we think is international best practice for a situation like this, and that is, an impartial, independent tribunal backed by the Security Council, under the auspices of resolution 2166, which was passed last year." Bishop went into the UNSC, where the veto and three abstentions took place.

   The Netherlands' Bert Koenders, a former UN official in Cote d'Ivoire then Mali, buzzed around the Security Council and stood for interviews. Australia's Julie Bishop posed on First Avenue with the UN behind her. Whether any questions about her government paying human traffickers would be allowed was UNclear.

 Bishop stopped on her way in, but declined to predict the vote count. Russia's Vitaly Churkin said, "Our position has not changed, listen to my speech."

   Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin, last here talking up peacekeeping in Donbas, said that if the resolution didn't pass there would be more shoot-downs.

 Back on July 20 Inner City Press asked the UN Security Council president for July, New Zealand's Gerard von Bohemen if there will be a July 27 vote. It is not "set in stone," he replied. Before that, von Bohemen said:

"We had consultations as you know, this afternoon on the issue of MH17 and what should be done by way of follow up to Resolution 2166 and the proposal by Joint Investigation Team of countries who want an international tribunal.
"I think it was a very positive discussion. There was strong support in the room for the establishment of a tribunal. Russia, of course, has a different perspective on this and explained its resolution and there were a number of countries that urged the two key proponents to come together and try to find a united way forward.
"Attention was drawn to the fact that the Council achieved great unity this morning for the Iran resolution and that same spirit, I think we should try to capture in this exercise.
"Having said that, I noted, and so did the Russian Federation, that the issue of the tribunal is the key deciding point.  And that’s the one that we are going to grapple with."

  Back on July 21, 2014, after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to an independent international investigation of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine, Inner City Press asked Malaysia's then Permanent Representative to the UN Hussein Haniff if there was, in fact, an agreement with the separatist rebels for Malaysia to get the black boxes. Video here.

Ambassador Hussein Haniff said yes, “there is this understanding that the black box will be handed over to Malaysia.” He said, “We have our people ready, we hope this agreement will be honored.”

Inner City Press asked when the hand-over is supposed to take place.

Like around now,” Ambassador Hussein Haniff replied. It was just past 5 pm in New York on July 21.

Earlier on July 21 at the US State Department's press briefing in Washington, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked if Malaysia was breaking ranks with other countries by making its own deal with the rebels, and if an agreement with Malaysia about the black boxes and flight recorders would give the separatist rebels leadership any legitimacy.

No, Harf insisted. Watch this site.


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