What will Russia do if there is a vote in the Security Council?! Oh wait, I think we already know!
A recent op-ed in New York Times talks about how, among other struggles, starvation has become one of the main problems in Syria. According to the authors of this piece, around 800,000 civilians are under siege. As a result, people have no access to food, medical supplies, or humanitarian aid. This situation has already caused several deaths. According to the authors, the international community needs to act in order to stop this moral atrocity and impose coercive measures. In addition, the op-ed talks about a potential resolution that France may propose in the UNSC (United Nations Security Council); however, it is unclear to as what the resolution would be like. Moreover, the article mentions that Russia remains one of the biggest obstacles, especially if we consider the fact that they have vetoed three UNSC resolutions on Syria since October of 2011. In situations like this, there are several implications that can cause major headache for the international community. One of the things to consider are precedents.
The Syrian case sometimes can seem like a déjà vu, especially if we consider implications of Russia and the international community. Often times, Russia and China, two out of five permanent members of the UNSC, have proven to be obstacles in the U.N. The use of veto by the members of UN causes major problems and prolongs the solution to problems around the world. In 1999, members of the U.N. had difficulty agreeing over Kosovo. The U.S. and Great Britain were fighting hard to stop the war and the atrocities. The U.S. was working on coming up with a U.N. mandate. However, with the Russian opposition, it was really hard to produce a resolution. Russia had made it clear that, because of their ties with Serbia, they were going to veto anything in the Security Council. After several attempts, the U.S. had to take matters in its own hands and with other NATO members decided to intervene in Kosovo. The U.S. has more power in NATO since Russia is not a member, and thus NATO was able to achieve a unanimous consent.
Although it has been mentioned several times that Syria does not really have a precedent, if we focus on analyzing the U.N. intervention situation, we can see similar patterns in the past. If the situation with starvation as a result of the siege continues, that could be interpreted as yet another violation of human rights within a state. As we can learn from history, violation of human rights can be a sufficient reason for military intervention. However, the situation in Syria is even more complicated because both sides are guilty for using innocent civilians in the war, which makes any potential decision by the international community even harder. Either way, it is going to be interesting to see how the U.N. and the international community are going to handle this situation. Are they going to let another disaster like Srebrenica, for example, happen again and have NATO step in to save the day? Whatever the decision is going to be, the deaths of innocent civilians need to stop as soon as possible.