EU and UN meet to discuss investigations and sanctions for Syria


The UN Human Rights Council met in a special session in Geneva on Friday, while the EU met in Brussels, to discuss Syria. Western countries are putting pressure on the country for its recent crackdown on protesters and are seeking an international probe into the violence.


In Geneva, the Human Rights Council special session came as a request by 10 European countries, plus the United States, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Senegal and Zambia. However, Syrian allies Russia and China expressed their strong opposition.

The United States drafted a resolution which called on the 47-member council to agree to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry… to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law” in Syria.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, The European Union met to discuss imposing sanctions on Syria. Hours before the EU’s 27 ambassadors convened, Pierre Vimont, secretary-general of the EU’s foreign service said: “There is a rather large agreement that something should be done to send the right message.”

Among the possible sanctions are a suspension of 210 million euros in grant and loans each year. Travel bans, an arms embargo and asset freezes against senior members of the regime are being considered.

A bilateral agreement opening the possibility of Syria winning preferential trade deals with the EU could also be put on hold, according to diplomats who told the AFP that they wished to remain anonymous.

The EU is Syria’s primary trade partner, with bilateral trade representing 5.4 billion euros in 2009.

Also on the table is a move to pressure other Asian countries to vote against Syria winning a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Syria, along with India, Indonesia and the Philippines, has been nominated by the Asia group at the UN for four seats.

France, the United States, Britain and their allies are searching for another Asian nation to challenge Syria’s candidacy.

Syria faces global condemnation over the deaths of hundreds of demonstrators who have taken to the streets in recent months against President Bashar-al-Assad.


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