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UN General Assembly to vote Thursday on Syria

15 february 2012, 15:23
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Syria's Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja'fari speaks to the UN General Assembly after a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Nations General Assembly regarding Syria. ©AFP
Syria's Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja'fari speaks to the UN General Assembly after a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Nations General Assembly regarding Syria. ©AFP
The United Nations General Assembly will vote Thursday on a new resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to put a stop to deadly attacks on civilians, AFP reports citing diplomats.

The resolution drawn up by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which was given to member nations on Tuesday, also expresses support for the Arab League's plan to end the 11-month crackdown in Syria and calls for the naming of a UN special envoy.

The move comes after Russia and China vetoed a second Security Council resolution on the crisis in Syria on February 4, because they said it was "unbalanced."

Russia and China are expected to oppose the new text but no one can veto resolutions in the 193-nation General Assembly, though they carry less weight. Diplomats said the measure was almost sure to pass.

The vote is expected on Thursday at 3:00 pm (2000 GMT).

"We'll see if this new text earns more or less than the 133 votes given to the first resolution" adopted on December 19, one diplomat said.

That measure denounced human rights violations in Syria, where activists say more than 6,000 have died since protests against Assad's government erupted last March.

"That will be the measure of success, but this time, the content is more political in nature," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

An Egyptian diplomat said his country, which presides over the Arab group in the Assembly, wanted to see a vote on the resolution "as soon as possible."

The draft resolution does not refer to an Arab League request for a joint peacekeeping mission with the United Nations, which has been met in some Western capitals with caution.

The Security Council has yet to adopt any resolutions on the situation in Syria. Russia and China also vetoed a draft in October.

The General Assembly draft is similar to the one blocked in the Council.

The text "fully supports" the Arab League's plan "to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system," without however mentioning Assad by name or the plan for him to hand over power.

It "calls upon the Syrian government to immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians" and "condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from."

The text calls on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to back the Arab League by appointing a special envoy to Syria, and "stresses the need to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the General Assembly on Monday that "crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed" in Syria since March 2011.

"Independent, credible and corroborated accounts indicate that these abuses have taken place as part of a widespread and systematic attack on civilians," Pillay said. Damascus on Tuesday flatly rejected her claims.

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