[Topic: Reforming UNSC - Abuse of veto power]

The Syrian Civil War

The Syrian Civil War has almost entered its 9th year. It started as a follow-up to the Arab Spring in 2011, where pro-democracy activists in Syria saw hope in democratizing the country and pushed for reforms by engaging in peaceful protests (Aljazeera 2018). In response, the government led by President Bashar Al-Assad launched a massive crackdown, killing and imprisoning many of its citizens who were involved with the protests (Marima 2018). Over time, the conflict escalated into a civil war, mainly concerning the forces of the Syrian government against the rebel groups. In addition, many local and international actors have joined the fray with specific interests in mind. Countries such as Russia and the United States have been involved in the civil war, both through direct or indirect means.

Discussions on the situation often times have been tainted by interests Russia, as the nation has issued many vetoes on Security Council Resolutions on Syria, including one recently (S/2018/321) where the council wishes to create investigative efforts on the use of lethal chemical weapons (UN News 2018), effectively halting any significant action from the Security Council. This is due to Russia’s close ties with Syria and the need to protect its only port, Tartus (Inwood 2018). Another Resolution that was drafted 2 years earlier in 8th of October 2016 with a more general topic regarding the cessation of all hostilities in Syria and the prevention of financial support to violent groups within the civil war such as ISIL was also vetoed by the Russian Federation. This is due to Russia insisting to not include aerial bombardment as a prohibited activity as it would help militants such as Jabhat-Al-Nusra (Borger 2014).

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

The Palestinian question has been a long-standing and polarizing issue in the United Nations concerning the legitimacy of both Palestine and Israel. Initially, the UN adopted the partition plan under Resolution 181 of the General Assembly. The resolution proposes the separation of the land of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, to which many Jewish communities in present Palestine believed to be a legal basis of the creation of the State of Israel. Furthermore, it recommends the further separation of the City of Jerusalem into a completely different entity from the two other states governed by an international regime (Prawer, et al. 2019). After that, however, the area in which the two nations reside have seen a cycle of conflicts and displacement of Palestinian refugees. The UN has generally supported the “two-state” solution that entails the coexistence of both the State of Israel and Palestine but was unable to truly enforce it, shown by the ongoing violence from both sides (Nation 2014).

In relation to the Security Council, many resolutions that address this specific issue were vetoed by the United States. Recent examples include Resolution S/2018/516 written by Kuwait that pushes the need of providing humanitarian assistance to the victims of the ongoing violence in Palestinian areas and the promotion of a peaceful reconciliation of both Israel and Palestine; Resolution S/2017/1060 written by Egypt in response to a move by the US government to recognize Jerusalem as a capital city of Israel and move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that urges the need to respect the position and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

References

Aljazeera. 2018. "Syria's Assad offers amnesty to army deserters." Aljazeera News. 9 October. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/syria-assad-offers-amnesty-army-deserters-181009090035909.html.

Borger, Julian. 2014. "EU backs supply of arms to Kurdish fighters in Iraq." The Guardian. 15 August. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/15/eu-backs-arms-kurdish-fighters-iraq.

Inwood, J. 2018. "Syria war: Weapons key players have at their disposal." BBC News. 12 April. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43730068.

Marima, Tendai. 2018. "Amid poll restrictions, Eswatini activists hope for change." Aljazeera News. 19 September. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/poll-restrictions-eswatini-activists-hope-change-180917135522256.html.

Nation, United. 2014. "Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories." UNISPAL. 26 August. https://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/5cb088a503903f6485257d880056b608?OpenDocument.

Prawer, Joshua, Michael Dumper, Bernard Wasserstein, Stewart Henry Perowne, and Buzzy Gordon. 2019. "Jerusalem." Encyclopedia Britannica. March. https://www.britannica.com/place/Jerusalem.

UN News. 2018. "UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo." UN News. 25 November. https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/11/1026531.