Following a dramatic month of bluster and diplomatic turmoil, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons. But it still has done nothing to halt the traumatic civil war that has so far killed over 100,000 and displaced over 7 million Syrians.
During the lead up to the agreement, US Ambassador Samantha Power complained, "The Security Council the world needs to deal with this urgent crisis is not the Security Council we have." Her words are too true. Since 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three different Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian regime's violence or promoting a solution. This year Russia has blocked at least three statements calling for humanitarian access to besieged cities and four resolutions or statements condemning or expressing concern over the use of chemical weapons. Prior to the current resolution, the Security Council could not even agree to put out a press statement expressing its disapproval over the use of chemical weapons.
I had hoped that President Obama would use his General Assembly speech to begin a dialogue with the permanent five members of the UN Security Council (P5) encouraging them to agree not to use their veto power to block action in response to genocide and mass atrocities that would otherwise pass by a majority. He came close, but I believe civil society has much more work to do to create the political cover for any P5 leader to initiate a public conversation on what we call the Responsibility Not to Veto (RN2V).
A few readers have asked me for some more background information and history on this concept. So here goes: