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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why the UN hasn't called a special session on Syria

With all the hand-wringing going on at the United Nations in the aftermath of the Russian and Chinese vetoes of the resolution condemning Syria, you would think that the UN might be looking for another weapon in its arsenal. Yes, it has one. Anne Bayefsky explains why the UN isn't using it.
Though the Assembly meeting today is full of breast-beating avowals of care for the Syrian people, it is actually not the highest level of concern which the Assembly is empowered to express.

For starters, it is not an "Emergency Special Session."

After Russia and China vetoed a painfully weak Security Council resolution on Syria on February 4, 2012, the General Assembly was entitled to convene an emergency special session under a procedure introduced in 1950 by the United States as a response to Soviet vetoes during the Korean war.

Why hasn’t the General Assembly, therefore, called an emergency special session on Syria? Answer: because it would interfere with the UN’s treatment of its favorite whipping boy – Israel.

There have been only ten emergency sessions of the Assembly in its history.

Five have been directed at Israel alone, and the most recent – the “tenth” emergency session – began in April 1997. The “tenth” session has been “reconvened” fifteen times – that is, kept as a private weapon in the political arsenal of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. An 11th emergency special session of the General Assembly on Syria would require ending the tenth session on Israel. And the Arab League has its priorities.

The General Assembly never had an emergency special session on genocide in Rwanda, despite 800,000 dead, or on Darfur, Sudan with more than 450,000 dead and millions displaced. So as far as the Assembly is concerned, Bashar al-Assad is just warming up.

In fact, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is not even counting. In response to a question concerning the numbers of Syrian dead at a press conference on February 10, 2012, spokesperson for the OHCHR Rupert Colville said: “numbers were climbing every day, but issuing a ballpark figure was not appropriate.” Odd, considering that the OHCHR has no problem broadcasting any number of alleged victims manufactured by Palestinians – including worrying about “hundreds of trees” in their fall 2011 “briefing notes.”
Read the whole thing. And when you're done, if any of you believe that the United Nations still has a right to exist, please let me know.

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