NEW YORK – The 15 members of the UN Security Council unanimously passed a draft
resolution on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons on Friday night.
resolution, while binding, does not lay out consequences for Syrian
noncompliance, beyond the threat of another resolution that would then be passed
under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which gives the Security Council the right
to authorize the use of force.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon told the
Council following the vote that this was a “historic resolution” that was “the
first hopeful news on Syria in a long time.
“For many months, I have said
that the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria would require a firm, united
response,” Ban said. “Tonight, the international community has
Now the council is turning to the matter of drafting and
passing a resolution on the humanitarian situation, which could happen as early
as Monday, and in planning a Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria. Ban told the
council on Friday evening following the vote that it is penciled-in for
EU foreign policy chief Catherine hailed the resolution as
“setting a standard” for the global response to threats of weapons of mass
“This decision should pave the way to the elimination of
chemical weapons in Syria and set a standard for the international community in
responding to threats posed by weapons of mass destruction,” AFP quoted Ashton
as saying in a statement late on Friday.
The text of the resolution
signified “a major step towards a sustainable and unified international response
to the crisis in Syria,” Ashton said. She added that the EU would implement
“forceful” support in the event of Syrian noncompliance.
Secretary William Hague told reporters the Security Council’s vote was a “very
“It is a good resolution,” he said. “It makes
clear that the use of chemical weapons is a threat to international peace and
security. It imposes binding obligations on the Syrian regime and makes clear
[that] in the event of non-compliance the Council will take
Hague also announced that the British government will be
donating $3 million to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons
Syrian Trust Fund which supports the OPCW’s Scientific Advisory Board.
think it’s very important now that the international agreement on chemical
weapons is followed up by renewed agreements,” Hague said.
statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that in the event Syria
does not comply with the council’s resolution, “the council will impose measures
under Chapter Seven.”
“The Security Council tonight has shown that
diplomacy can be so powerful, that it can peacefully defuse the worst weapons of
war,” he said.
Kerry did not speak to reporters following the
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – who also chose not to
speak to the press – emphasized that the resolution does not automatically
impose sanctions or other “coercive measures” on Syria, and that the Security
Council must have “100 percent proof” of a chemical weapons violation before
taking further measures.
All the diplomats present made statements on how
this resolution was not an excuse for either side to continue using conventional
“We must work together with the same determination, the same
cooperation that has brought us here tonight, in order to end the conflict that
continues to tear Syria apart even this very day,” Kerry said.
light for one form of weapons does not mean a green light for others,” Ban said.
“This is not a license to kill with conventional weapons.”
ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jafa’ari, told reporters that his government was
ready to fully comply with the Security Council. He also told reporters that the
resolution applied to every member state in the UN, including in the sections
where it recalls a previous Security Council resolution which, Jafa’ari said,
“calls on all states from providing all form of support to nonstate
“The Syrian government acknowledges the positive endeavor that
led to this exceptional language. It is regrettable, however, that some of
delegations have already started to provide self-inflicted interpretations in
order to derail it from its lofty purposes,” he added.
emphasized that the Syrian government voluntarily acceded to the Chemical
Weapons Convention, and said, “This proves the Syrian government’s willingness
to cooperate with the OPCW.”
He added that his government was completely
ready and willing to participate in a Geneva II convention, but would not say
whether this would include talks to negotiate a mutually agreed upon political
Meanwhile in Washington, US President Barack Obama juggled
the Security Council resolution with a historic phone call with Iranian
President Hassan Rouhani – the first such communication between the leaders of
the US and Iran in over three decades.
“This binding resolution will
ensure that the Assad regime must keep its commitments, or face consequences,”
Obama said at a press conference at the White House.
“We’ll have to be
vigilant about following through, but this could be a significant victory for
the international community and demonstrate how strong diplomacy can allow us to
secure our country and pursue a better world,” the US president
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South
Carolina), who have for months pushed for more aggressive US involvement in
Syria to aid the opposition, immediately released a statement pouring cold water
on the resolution.
“This resolution is another triumph of hope over
reality,” the senators said in a prepared statement. “It contains no meaningful
or immediate enforcement mechanisms, let alone a threat of the use of force for
the Assad regime’s noncompliance. The whole question of enforcement has been
But a senior administration official told reporters on Friday
that the resolution was an achievement that went beyond what a military campaign
could have accomplished.
“This would, frankly, go beyond achieving the
objective that we were contemplating with military action,” the official
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.