General Assembly Piles on Bashar al Assad, But International Community Still Divided

With diplomacy stuck at the Security Council, the General Assembly today approved an Arab League sponsored resolution condemning the Syrian government and calling for political transition in Damascus. The resolution passed with 133 in favor, 12 against, and 31 abstentions.

The resolution has no force of law, but it does show the degree to which the Syria’s defenders at the UN are isolated.  And that degree is…not quite. By comparison, on March 1, 2011 the General Assembly held a vote to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council. That resolution didn’t even require a vote–it passed by acclamation with only a few grumbles from Venezuela and Cuba.

So, it would seem that while this vote today is lopsided, it is not as lopsided as it could be. Syria still has some important defenders in the international community.

Here is Susan Rice’s reaction to today’s vote

The United States welcomes the strong message that the United Nations General Assembly delivered today both to the Syrian regime and to the Syrian people.  Today’s General Assembly resolution, supported by an overwhelming majority of UN member states, strongly condemns the Syrian authorities’ increasing use of heavy weapons and its ongoing and
intensifying human rights abuses. The General Assembly demanded once more that the first step in the cessation of violence be made by the Assad regime. Importantly, the resolution also welcomes the Arab League’s July 22nd decision, which calls for Assad to step down and for a transitional government to be formed. The United States is pleased
that the General Assembly has made it abundantly clear that Syria’s chemical weapons must remain secure and that members of the regime will be held accountable in the event such weapons are used.

Despite the continued opposition of an increasingly isolated minority, the overwhelming majority of UN members clearly stands resolutely with the Syrian people as they seek to fulfill their legitimate aspirations. The United States will continue to work with like-minded partners both at the United Nations and elsewhere, including with the over 130 countries who supported today’s resolution, to advance Syria’s transition, provide humanitarian support to those in need, and unify and strengthen the political opposition.