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Aug. 10 – Beyonce and Ban at the U.N. General Assembly. Singer Beyonce Knowles chats with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of her live performance on Friday evening. She will sing “I Was Here” in front of some 1,600 people in a transformed General Assembly hall for a music video which will be released […]

Yemen Co-Sponsors Syria Resolution, Skips Vote

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari speaks before the vote. He asked member states to vote with their conscience (UN Photo)

Aug. 3 – The 193-member General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution that condemns the Syrian government’s violent 17-month crackdown and chides the Security Council for failing to agree on tough measures against Bashar Al- Assad.

The measure was adopted by a vote of 133 voting yes, 12 against and 31 abstentions.

Put forward by Saudi Arabia, as current chair of the Arab Group at the U.N., the resolution had more than 50 co-sponsors, including Yemen – yet no one from the Yemeni delegation showed up to vote. It’s one thing not to show up for a vote but to not show up to vote on a resolution you co-sponsored is quite another. A phone call to Yemen’s mission to the U.N. went unanswered and voice mail facility was not available.

Sana’a was not alone in missing the 11am General Assembly meeting – another 16 countries were also absent including Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as well as the U.N.’s newest member state, South Sudan. Other no shows were Cambodia, Philippines and Equatorial Guinea.

Among the 31 abstaining countries were Pakistan and India as well as Syria’s neighbor Lebanon.

The 12 countries who voted no to the resolution were, predictably, Syria along with China and Russia—who’ve double vetoed three Security Council resolutions against Damascus in the past ten months—as well as Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

A full tally of the vote is here.

UNSMIS July 15 Statement Following Second Visit to Treimseh

Note to correspondents by the Spokesperson for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria

UN Observers returned to the village of Treimseh, today, to gather more information on the military operation of July 12.  

The integrated patrol, comprised of specialized civilian and military experts, observed over 50 houses that were burned and/or destroyed.  Pools of blood and brain matter were observed in a number of homes.

The consistent account relayed by 27 local villagers, interviewed by the UN Team, indicates that attack commenced at 5am Thursday morning on July 12.  It began with the shelling of the village followed by ground operations.  According to those interviewed, the army was conducting house to house searches asking for men and their ID cards.  They alleged that after checking their identification, numerous were killed.  Other men were taken out of the village.

On the basis of some of the destruction observed in the town and the witness accounts, the attack appears targeted at army defectors and activists.  

UN Observers also confirmed the use of direct and indirect weapons, including artillery, mortars and small arms.  A Free Syrian Army leader, Saleh al-Subaai, was confirmed shot dead.  A doctor and his children were killed when a mortar shell hit their home.      

The number of casualties is still unclear. The UN Supervision Mission in Syria is trying to seek further verification.

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria calls on the Government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and take all necessary measures to reduce civilian casualties.  UNSMIS urges the Parties to end the violence and pursue a peaceful Syrian-led transition that truly meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

July 14 Statement From UNSMIS Following Preliminary Fact-Finding Mission to Treimseh

Note to correspondents by the Spokesperson for the UN Supervision Mission in   Syria

UN Observers entered el-Treimseh Saturday to try to ascertain the facts on the ground and verify reports of a military operation on the village.  On the basis of this preliminary mission, UNSMIS can confirm that an attack, using a variety of weapons, took place in Treimseh on July 12.

The attack on Treimseh appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists.   There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases.

The UN Team also observed a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them.

A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.

The number of casualties is still unclear.  The UN Team plans to go back into Treimseh tomorrow to continue their fact finding mission.

The Head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, announced on Friday, in a press conference, that the UN Mission stands ready to send its Observers to Treimseh, despite the Mission’s suspension of activities, if and when there is a ceasefire.

UNSMIS received information that a ceasefire was in place on Friday and immediately conducted a reconnaissance patrol in the area to assess access to the village and establish contacts with local Parties.

An 11 vehicle integrated patrol, comprised of specialized military and civilian observers, arrived in Treimseh, 25km north-west of the city of Hama, on Saturday after confirming that a ceasefire was in place.

UNSMIS is deeply concerned about the escalating level of violence in Syria and calls on the Government to cease the use of heavy weapons on population centres and on the Parties to put down their weapons and choose the path of non-violence for the welfare of the Syrian people who have suffered enough.  

The Nuclear Armed UN Security Council


The UN Security Council discuss nuclear disarmament at this April 19, 2012 meeting (UN Photo)

May 3, 2012 – The current composition of the U.N. Security Council includes seven states who together possess 18,900 of the 19,000 nuclear weapons in existence today.

The vast majority of those weapons belong to two of the five permanent UNSC members, Russia (10,000) and the U.S. (8,000), according to a new report from Ploughshares.

The three other permanent members of the council – Britain, China and France – possess 775 nuclear weapons between them. (One of the arguments in support of the P5 veto power is that it prevented those states with a nuclear arsenal from attacking each other, though this is increasingly obsolete in a post-Cold War context.)

The two remaining countries on the council with nuclear stockpiles are non-permanent members India, (elected to UNSC for 2011-12) said to have 60-80 nuclear weapons, and neighbor Pakistan (2012-13), estimated to have a slightly higher number. 

North Korea, less than ten, and Israel, around 70, round out the countries that hold nuclear weapons. Neither is likely in the near future to garner enough support in the UN General Assembly to get elected to temporary membership of the council. 

While the P5 are among the 190 countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan have not (Pyongyang withdrew from the treaty in 2003).

South Africa, also a non-permanent member of the council, in 1989 became the first and only state to voluntarily give up its nuclear arms program – which at the time consisted of six weapons.

– Denis Fitzgerald

North Korea Tells UN Security Council of ‘Dastardly Tricks’ by US

North Korea’s UN mission has fired off a missive to the Security Council complaining the United States of “hatching all sorts of dastardly tricks” and making a “brigandish demand” of the council to condemn Pyongyang’s recent failed launch of a satellite.

The letter, addressed to the President of the Security Council – which happens to be US ambassador Susan Rice this month, states that North Korea showed “to the maximum, from A to Z” that its intention to launch the satellite was entirely for peaceful purposes, and aroused the sympathy of the broad world public.”

Yet, the letter goes on, the council allowed itself to be “abused, under the pressure of high-handed and arbitrary practices of the United States.” The resolutions that the council said North Korea violated [1718 & 1874] are, according to the letter, “the height of illegality, faked up at random, disregarding even universally accepted international law.”

Read the full letter here

adj – Like a brigand or freebooter; robberlike.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, pub’d 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.


UNSC Give Go Ahead to Deploy 300 Unarmed Observers to Monitor Ceasefire in Syria

UNSC Give Go Ahead to Deploy 300 Unarmed Observers to Monitor Ceasefire in Syria

Agreement Signed Between U.N. and Syrian Government on Terms of Deployment for Observer Mission

Agreement Signed Between U.N. and Syrian Government on Terms of Deployment for Observer Mission

Ban Ki-moon Proposes 300 Unarmed Obsevers for Supervision Mission in Syria

Ban Ki-moon on Thursday said he has asked the Security Council to authorize the deployment of 300 unarmed observers to Syria for a supervision mission to monitor the precarious ceasefire despite “deeply troubling evidence” that Syrian troops have not ceased all violence. Ban’s proposal is that the observers be deployed “over a period weeks, in approximately ten locations.” The name of the proposed operation is the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). The U.N. chief said there is no agreement yet with Syria on using U.N. helicopters and airplanes. The Syrian government told him they will be responsible for transporting the observers and assured him that the monitors will have free mobility. “I hope they will keep their promise,” Ban said.

UN armored vehicles are unloaded from an Italian aircraft
carrier in Beruit on April 17 for use by advance observer mission
in Syria. (Courtesy: UN Photo)