Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saudi Arabia rejects seat on Security Council

Saudi Arabia slammed the UN Security Council for “double standards” yesterday as it turned down its election to the 15-member panel as a rotating member. Citing a lack of progress on Palestinian statehood, regional arms control, and the Syrian conflict, the foreign ministry said that it would not join “until the council is reformed and enabled, effectively and practically, to carry out its duties and responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security”.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities towards preserving international peace”, the statement said.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly expressed frustration with the Security Council in recent months over its inability to bring a halt to the civil war in Syria and what Riyadh argues is its overly narrow focus on eliminating the country’s chemical weapons.
Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the Security Council seat is thought to be the first time a nation has ever turned down the position. This was the kingdom’s first election to the council and countries often spend months or years campaigning for one of the 10 rotating two-year seats on the council. The 15-member council also includes the five permanent members with veto power — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France. The non-permanent Security Council seats offer countries access to top international diplomats as well as local prestige, since they are allotted on a regional basis.
The Saudi ambassador to the UN had initially welcomed the vote, calling it “a reflection of a long-standing [Saudi] policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes in peaceful means”. “We look forward to working with the rest of the international community to help our Syrian brothers achieve their objectives,” Abdullah Al Mouallimi said after the vote on Thursday.

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