The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to boost humanitarian access in Syriathat threatens to take 'further steps' in the case of non-compliance, demands cross-border aid access and condemns rights abuses by the Syrian government and opposition armed groups. The 15-nation UNSC met to vote on the resolution, co-authored by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg amid uncertainty that Russia and China could veto the draft.
Russia and China support the Syrian government and have vetoed three previous resolutions backed by Western nations that would have pressed Syrian President Bashar Assad to end the three-year conflict. The resolution demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, "promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need through the most direct routes".
After the 15 nations voted in favour of the draft, Ban told the UNSC that he welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which if implemented quickly could ease "some of the suffering" and "prolonged desperation" of the Syrian people. "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," he said.
UN Security Council
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946.
The Security Council consists of fifteen members. The great powers that were the victors of World War II—China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US—serve as the body's five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General. The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body's presidency rotates monthly between its members.
Security Council resolutions are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget. As of 2013, 116,837 peacekeeping soldiers and other personnel are deployed on 15 missions around the world. Evaluations of the Security Council's effectiveness are mixed, and calls for its reform pre-date the body's first meeting; however, little consensus exists on how its structure should be changed.