May 22 - A United Nations Security Council resolution referring the Syrian War to the International Criminal Court fails to pass after veto votes by Russia and China. Vanessa Johnston reports.
Russia and China vetoed on Thursday a resolution to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This was the fourth time Russia - a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government - and China have blocked U.N. Security Council action on Syria. Its three-year civil war has killed more than 150,000 people. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the victims of the conflict deserved a chance to seek justice. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAMANTHA POWER, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR, SAYING: "My government applauds the vast majority of this council who voted to support and the some 64 countries that joined us in co-sponsoring this effort to refer these atrocities to the International Criminal Court. Sadly, because of the decision by the Russian Federation to back the Syrian regime no matter what it does, the Syrian people will not see justice today. They will see crime, but not punishment." Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin defended his position. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR, SAYING: "We are convinced that justice in Syria will eventually prevail. Those guilty of perpetrating grave crimes will be punished. But in order for this to happen, peace is first needed, first and foremost. Russia will continue to exert every effort to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible. We call upon our western colleagues to abandon their futile dead end policy of endlessly escalating the Syrian crisis." The ICC prosecutor cannot investigate the situation in Syria without a referral from the 15-member Security Council. The Security Council has previously referred Libya and Darfur, Sudan to the ICC.