Saudi Arabia said on Friday it would not take up its rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council, citing “double standards” which it said hampered the world body’s ability to end conflicts.
It is the second time this month that Saudi Arabia has publicly expressed discontent over what it sees as the Security Council’s failure to take action to stop a civil war in Syria that has killed more than 100,000 people.
“The kingdom sees that the method and work mechanism and the double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering its responsibilities towards world peace,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
Saudi Arabia, along with Chad and Nigeria, were elected by the UN General Assembly on Thursday to serve a two-year term on the UN Security Council as human rights groups called for all three countries to improve their records.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said it was unable to take its seat until reforms were introduced, but did not specify what reforms it wanted.
US-allied Saudi Arabia has been angry over what it says is the failure of the international community to help either Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad or Palestinians seeking an end to more than four decades of Israeli occupation.
The Security Council has been split on how to handle the civil war in Syria, with Western powers pushing for stronger sanctions against Assad and Russia vetoing resolutions to that end. Saudi Arabiahas backed the rebels in that conflict.
The Saudis, along with other Arab states, have also often criticised the United States for blocking international action to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seized in the 1967 Middle Eastwar.
Earlier this month, the Saudi foreign minister cancelled a speech at the UN General Assembly in frustration over the international inaction on Syria and the Palestinian issue, a diplomatic source said.
Saudi U.N. draft condemns Syrian regime, Hezbollah (extracts from The Daily Star article)
As a stunned world watched Saudi Arabia spurn a seat on the U.N Security Council, the Gulf state has been quietly circulating a General Assembly draft resolution that condemns Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria and the regime’s use of chemical weapons and heavy aerial bombardment against the population.
“All massacres in the Syrian Arab Republic, including most recently the massacre in the Al-Ghouta region on 21 Aug., 2013, which caused appalling civilian casualties in which government forces are suspected to have used chemical weapons which are prohibited under international law, amount to a serious crime,” the draft says.
The resolution also “condemns the intervention of all foreign combatants in Syria, including those fighting on behalf of the regime and in particular Hezbollah,” and demands that “the Syrian government implement the relevant resolutions of United Nations bodies.”
Saudi Arabia angrily rejected a Security Council seat Friday, only hours after it won the position – a first for the kingdom.
A statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry accused the U.N. body of “double standards” over the Syria war.
“Therefore, Saudi Arabia … has no other option but to turn down Security Council membership until it is reformed and given the means to accomplish its duties and assume its responsibilities in preserving the world’s peace and security,” it added.
The government said “allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people” with chemical weapons is “irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities.”
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told reporters that it would be for U.N. member states to decide how to replace Saudi Arabia, but added: “I would like to caution you that I have received no official notification” from the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabia was one of five nations elected by the Assembly Thursday to start a two-year term on the Security Council. No country has ever won a seat and then refused to take it up.
Entitled “Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Republic,” the Saudi-sponsored draft resolution has gained the support of Qatar, Turkey, the UAE, Jordan, Britain, France and the U.S., according to unconfirmed reports.
The draft resolution is still under discussion and is scheduled for a vote next month.
It is the second time this month that Saudi Arabia, a founding member of the U.N., has made a public gesture over what it sees as the body’s failure to take action to stop the civil war in Syria.
During the General Assembly meeting in September Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal refused to address the world or even hand out a copy of his speech.
The shock move Friday reflected the kingdom’s dissatisfaction with the positions of the international organization on Arab and Islamic issues, particularly the issue of Palestine and the Syrian crisis.
Saudi Arabia’s frustration is mostly directed at the U.S., its oldest international ally, which has pursued policies in the Middle East that Saudi rulers have bitterly opposed, according to analysts.
“This is a protest from the Saudis, not really against the UNSC, [but] rather against U.S. policies – without having to explicitly attack the U.S. In practical terms, it denies the U.S. an allied vote on other issues at the UNSC,” Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Star.
Russia criticized the decision, saying its attack on the Council over Syria was “particularly strange.” But France said it shares Saudi Arabia’s “frustration” at the council’s “paralysis.”