Ahead of the four-year anniversary of the crisis in Syria, Physicians for Human Rights and partner organizations call on permanent members of the UN Security Council to refrain from using their veto power when confronted with a crisis in which civilians are at impending risk of atrocity crimes. Despite displaying fleeting unity on resolutions on the removal of chemical weapons and the delivery of humanitarian aid, the four vetoes cast by Russia and China on most Security Council resolutions pertaining to Syria point to that body’s powerlessness to uphold their Responsibility to Protect when the veto is used. Such blatant inaction by the UN organ chiefly responsible for maintaining international peace and security has exacted catastrophic consequences on the people of Syria by delaying and hindering early and subsequent international action.
A refusal by the Permanent Members to use their veto when the Security Council is facing the most daunting of challenges—that of responding to mass atrocities—would mark a historic step for the Council, both in terms of upholding its Responsibility to Protect and in preserving its legitimacy as the primary organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security. Read the full statement here.