UK Calls for Syria Sanctions If Violence Continues

Following the collapse of a ceasefire agreement earlier this year in Syria and as a new one is being discussed, the United Kingdom is proposing the United Nations threaten the Syrian regime with sanctions if it doesn’t halt its military assaults in the country. According to Sky News Online, the draft resolution would give the Bashar al-Assad government 10 days to stop its use of heavy weapons in population centers and remove such weapons and troops from those locations.

The draft also calls for the Syrian authorities to “facilitate a sustained cessation of violence,” according to Sky News Online. The UK plan is backed by the United States, France and Germany. The Syrian regime has killed thousands of civilians in a vicious crackdown on the opposition, which itself has turned more to arms in what is turning into a civil war.

The UK plan is to place the ceasefire under a Chapter VII Security Council resolution, which authorizes sanctions for noncompliance. In comments to the press on Tuesday, British Ambassador to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant said that the reason for doing so is “to make it clear to the parties that we are insisting on implementation of those commitments.”

Russia and China could prove insurmountable obstacles to such a resolution in the Security Council, as both nations wield veto power. The two countries jointly vetoed two previous UN resolutions on Syria.

Grant, whose comments were posted on the UK Mission to the UN website, said of the Assad regime, “We’ve heard a lot of commitments in the past. They have not been followed through. They have not been implemented. The initial commitments that President Assad made was to the Arab League back in November last year. That’s now nearly nine months ago. And he has not delivered on those commitments.”

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice backed Grant’s stance for sanctions if the ceasefire plan were not implemented. “Our view is that this Council needs to put that kind of plan under Chapter VII, make it clear that it is binding on the parties,” said Rice in comments released by her office. “And we ought to make very clear… that there ought to be clear-cut consequences for non-compliance.”

Despite the threats of sanctions, Rice made it clear they were not pushing for military action, which is also covered under a Chapter VII resolution. “We mean consequences under Chapter VII, specifically sanctions. I don’t mean to allude to other consequences under Chapter VII.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 11, 2012)