Will Russia Stop Blocking UN Action on Syria?

May 31, 2012

Assad and Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, February 7, 2012. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Following the deaths of at least 108 people in Houla, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the Syrian government that it “bears the main responsibility for what is going on.”  But despite these strong words, Russia continues to obstruct meaningful UN Security Council action that could stop the violence in Syria.

As reported in The Telegraph (UK), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov later stated, “We believe that a review now by the Security Council of any new measures on the situation would be premature.”

Meanwhile, Syrian civilians continue to be killed in a government campaign that amounts to crimes against humanity.  Since the Syrian government’s crackdown began last March, Amnesty International has received the names of some 9,750 people who have been killed, including more than 700 children.

Tomorrow, the UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session in Geneva to focus on Syria and the recent killings in Houla. 51 nations supported the call for the session.  Such efforts are significant barometers of global sentiment.

It is crucial that the UN Security Council itself take action by referring the deteriorating security situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. That means that Russia must drop its opposition to such an action immediately.

You can help push Russian diplomats to change their position by emailing the Russian government today.  As shifting Russian rhetoric indicates, they are sensitive to being blamed for the lack of accountability in Syria.  But merely changing rhetoric isn’t enough.  We need the Russian government to stop blocking meaningful global action.

Matt Starkston, Amnesty International USA Intern, contributed to this post.