Monday, October 31, 2005

Hariri Report Leads to Security Council Action

Earlier today the UN Security Council issued Resolution 1636 demanding that Syria cooperate with the Hariri investigation “or else.” OK, it didn’t really say “or else” but that was the gist of it. See a summary of main points here; UN press report here.

The UN press report explained that

The resolution called on all States to prevent the entry or transit of suspects designated by the Commission or the Government of Lebanon and to freeze all assets of such person on their territory.


The resolution determined "that any involvement of any State in this terrorist act would constitute a serious violation by that State of its obligations to work to prevent and refrain from supporting terrorism."

As CNN summarized:

Last-minute diplomatic haggling deleted a direct reference to the threat of sanctions on the Syrian government, but the effect of Monday's resolution is the same.

The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which holds open the ultimate possibility of the Security Council considering the use of force with failure to comply.

Russia and China simply would not have voted for stronger wording. But this nonetheless puts Syria in a fairly tight spot as the Security Council’s Chapter VII authority is the diplomatic equivalent of ending your demand with “or else.” Resolutions under Chapter VII must be followed by UN members States. The specifics of that “or else” may require another resolution but under Chapter VII no options are off the table, as certain Washington politicians are fond of saying.

The Hariri Report was the step that made getting a Chapter VII resolution politically feasible. Heated rhetoric alone from the U.S. could not have done this. Now UN member States are required to assist in the investigation. If Syria persists in stonewalling, then UN member States may soon be required to have sanctions against Syria.

But still, isn’t this less direct than the U.S. going in and trying a little regime change? Well, yes, but the point is that what sometimes seems to be the most direct method (hey guys, let’s topple a government!) can be the least effective. Rather, here we see the role of consensus building and coordination. Moreover, as I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, the UN’s role gives a legitimacy to the process that gung-ho unilateralism simply would not have had. And, with legitimacy, we may get a better and more sustainable outcome.

Christopher Le Mon has commented that the full text is available here. Thanks for the link.


Blogger Christopher Le Mon said...

Although the UN hasn't yet put up a link to Resolution 1636, a PDF version is available on the US Mission's website at

10/31/2005 5:57 PM  
Blogger reformist_muslim said...

Your point about multilateralism is very true. There are very few people who would argue that pressure should not be exerted on Syria.

Yet if America had made this type of statement on its own, reaction towards it would have been hostile from much of the world and Syria would have gained the upper hand.

Secondly, this isn't related but do you have any news on what the U.N/ICC prosecutor are doing on Sudan. It seemed to me that the UN report last year went pretty close to declaring genocide and at least provided anyone willing to do so some justification of the use of force for humanitarian purposes.

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