Jordan takes helm of UN Security Council amid questions of reform, Syria

Jordan assumes their position on the Security Council in place of Saudi Arabia.

United Nations Human Rights Council 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
United Nations Human Rights Council 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – Jordan’s permanent representative to the UN, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, faced the press for the first time in his new capacity as president of the UN Security Council on Monday, amid the crisis in Syria and further calls for Security Council reform.
“The UN has proven itself capable of stopping killing and stopping war, but not always,” Hussein said, speaking in his national capacity.
“They generally know how to put together a cease-fire package, and they know the sequence of steps to end a conflict. What the UN doesn’t know how to do is how to end a conflict permanently.” Hussein said this will be a major point of discussion in the upcoming month.
Hussein was circumspect on what he expected the Security Council to accomplish in terms of further brokering peace in Syria or in other conflicts around the world, and was hesitant to speak in his capacity as president.
Speaking as Jordan’s ambassador, Hussein said that he planned to defend the interests of Jordan, the Arab Group whom Jordan represents on the Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Countries.
He added that Jordan will also have the objective to strengthen the UN with respect to peacekeeping missions, and to support the rule of law.
“We also will support and continue to work on Security Council reform, in particular when it comes to the issue of the veto,” Hussein said.
The deadlock in the Security Council late last year, over revelations that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons with deadly force on their own people, created widespread calls for reform of the Security Council voting system; particularly during times of international crisis.
Jordan was part of the Small Five Group of countries – including Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland – that presented a draft resolution in 2011 for reforming the working methods of the Security Council.
“We believe that there should not be a use of veto in certain situations where there is genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes,” Hussein said.
“I don’t think anyone who comes from our region doesn’t believe this isn’t the right position.
There is a feeling worldwide that the veto cannot be seen as a license by those who are allied to the permanent members. To take measures that could well be construed as falling outside the bounds of international humanitarian or criminal law.”
Hussein fielded several questions about the situation in Syria, including queries as to whether Jordan would once again extend an invitation to Security Council members to visit the Za’atari camps for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Jordan had first extended the invitation last April, but, as Hussein said, no one RSVP’d.
“We have not received any response nor seen any reaction by the Security Council,” Hussein told reporters.
He would not name who in the Council blocked or vetoed Jordan’s invitation, but said, “we will reconsider this issue, that’s for sure.”
In response to recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, Hussein said the Jordanians acknowledged that both sides had embarked on “very difficult discussions,” but did not know what their official response would be to any proposed framework.
Jordan assumes their position on the Security Council in place of Saudi Arabia – who gave up their coveted seat in October, in protest of what they deemed a weak stance toward the conflict in Syria.
The Security Council will hear consultations on the situation in the Middle East, including the current status of Syria’s chemical weapons, on Wednesday, and will hold an open debate on the Middle East and the question of Palestine on January 20.