Syria resolution; China- Africa meeting; Israeli tourist bombing; Israel and Lebanon

Syria resolution: Despite the appeals for united and concerted action to help end the escalating violence in Syria, the Security Council today failed to adopt a resolution that would have threatened sanctions on Damascus, owing to the negative votes of permanent members Russia and China.

Eleven of the Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the resolution’s text, while two others – Pakistan and South Africa – abstained. A veto by any one of the Council’s five permanent members means a resolution cannot be adopted.

According to Security Council report, a new draft resolution, which may be voted on as early as this afternoon, would renew the UNSMIS mandate for a “final” period of 30 days. However, it appears to be more than a technical rollover as the draft takes into consideration the SG’s recommendations to reconfigure the mission and the operational implications of the dangerous security situation in Syria.

The draft also conditions any further renewal of UNSMIS to the full implementation of paragraph 2 of resolution 2043, which explicitly calls on Syria to cease the use of heavy weapons and withdraw from population centres as part of its commitment to the six-point plan formulated by UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan. It also apparently asks the Secretary-General to report within 15 days.

China-Africa meeting: The SG today highlighted the importance of continuous South-South cooperation during a forum in Beijing, China, adding that strong ties between developing countries are essential for global economic growth.

The UN chief emphasized that South-South cooperation was especially relevant given the current economic climate, as the global economic slowdown and the European sovereign debt crisis are impacting traditional donor support in many countries.

According to the Forum’s website, the event is a platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for enhancing practical cooperation between China and African countries, and helps sets a “successful” example of South-South cooperation.

Israeli tourist bombing: The UN and its diplomatic partners in the search for peace in the Middle East today strongly condemned yesterday’s deadly bombing attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.

“This is an act of cowardice against innocent people, including children,” said a statement issued by the members of the Middle East Quartet – the diplomatic grouping bringing together the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States.

According to media reports, the bus was outside of the airport of the city of Burgas when it exploded, killing at least seven and injuring more than 30 people, some critically.

Israel and Lebanon: The Security Council said it is encouraged by the stability that continues to prevail across the so-called Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon, and emphasized the need to move forward on all outstanding issues regarding the implementation of relevant resolutions.

In a statement issued to the press on Wednesday night, the 15-member body “urged the parties to continue working within the framework of the tripartite mechanism, in order to progress notably on the marking of the Blue Line.”  The resolution calls for respect for the Blue Line, the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, and an end to arms smuggling in the area. While the resolution has largely been respected over the past six years, but there has been little progress towards an envisaged permanent ceasefire.

Humanitarian aid: Some 62 million people around the world currently need humanitarian help, the UN reported today, pointing to food insecurity, conflict, and natural disasters as the main causes for aid requirement.

“Halfway through this year we are seeing people in desperate need in twenty countries, whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by conflict, hunger and disaster,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos.