Rights body condemns Syria; Shell pulls out

December 3, 2011

By Douglas Hamilton and Stephanie Nebehay

(Reuters) – The main U.N. human rights forum condemned Syria’s crackdown on protests on Friday and Royal Dutch Shell shut down oil work there because of EU sanctions, signs of the deepening isolation of President Bashar al-Assad.

The 47-member rights forum overwhelmingly voted to adopt a resolution put forward by the European Union, condemning “gross and systematic” rights violations. Russia and China, which have so far protected Assad by vetoing measures at the U.N. Security Council, were among the four countries to vote against it.

The United States, which voted in favour, welcomed the result at the third emergency session held on Syria this year.

“The evidence we have seen leaves no doubt about the complicity of Syrian authorities and provides a very strong basis for accountability to go forward in other institutions where that is their mandate,” U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told Reuters.

Asked whether this could mean charges in the International Criminal Court, she replied: “Absolutely, including the ICC if the Security Council chooses to refer this matter.”

All five Arab members – Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – also backed the text, a sign of isolation in the region that could hurt Assad more than pressure from the West.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement: “Those who trample over human rights in this way must reckon with ostracism and sanctions. It is high time that the U.N. Security Council sends an unambiguous signal.”

But the Council cannot do so without Russia and China. Envoys from both countries took the floor to warn against external intervention.

“We would like to warn against illegal interference by outside forces even under the pretext of protecting human rights. This will have serious and unforeseen consequences,” Russia’s Valery Loshchinin told the Council session.

“We hear that the conflict in Syria continues to be fuelled by outside forces, armed and terrorist groups being organized and supplied with weapons and money from abroad,” he said, echoing Assad’s portrayal of his opponents.

To read more, visit: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/02/us-syria-idUSTRE7AM0QA20111202?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=71

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