U.N. Passes Resolution For Humanitarian Aid In Syria

The United Nation's Security Council unanimously approved a resolution ordering both sides of Syria's civil war to allow access for humanitarian aid.

U.N. Passes Resolution For Humanitarian Aid In Syria
United Nations / Paulo Figueiras

The United Nations passed a resolution Saturday which demands safe and unfettered access for humanitarian aid groups to the besieged civilian population of Syria.

The U.N.'s 15-member Security Council passed the resolution unanimously Saturday. It condemns the ongoing violence in Syria and orders both sides of the fighting to lift sieges of civilian populations to allow access for humanitarian aid.

Syria's three-year civil war has killed over 100,000 people, and the U.N. estimates over 9 million people have been displaced from their homes or cut off from aid. (Via Fox News)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the resolution's passage Saturday, but he also pointed out delivering humanitarian assistance shouldn't require a Security Council resolution.

"This resolution should not have been necessary. Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated. It is something to be allowed by virtue of international law."

There was a good deal of skepticism surrounding this resolution. Three similar proposals had been struck down in the past by Russia, who has supported the Syrian regime alongside China. 

The New York Times reports Russian ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin kept the press guessing until the morning of the vote. As he entered the council room, Churkin told reporters "Of course we're going to support it. ... It's a pretty good resolution."

But The Wall Street Journal notes support from Russia came at a high price. The initial draft of the resolution threatened automatic sanctions against any party which failed to comply with the resolution in 15 days. That clause has been watered down in the final version to an "intent to take further steps" after 30 days.

"That is the weakness of this resolution, there isn't an enforcement mechanism. If Syria says, 'We're not going to abide by this,' there isn't an immediate way of punishing non-compliance." (Via BBC)

The first test of this resolution comes in 30 days, when the Secretary-General will report to the council which sides of the conflict are complying with the order.