Over the past year, more and more citizens around the world have been standing up for their freedom. Sadly, as chronicled in Amnesty International’s annual State of the World 2012 Report, world leaders have failed to mirror the courage shown by millions of peaceful protesters. Too many nations have placed self-interest and profit ahead of people’s rights – and even their lives. The results have been tragic.
Even the United Nations Security Council, which is supposed to be the bulwark of global peace and security, has failed in its response to these popular uprisings, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. The Security Council’s ramparts have been thinly manned, its response to cries for help too often feeble. Inaction over Syria has left the Council seeming woefully unfit for its primary purpose: maintaining international peace.
In the case of Syria, Russian and Chinese intransigence has put the credibility of the Council at risk; undermining its core function as a guardian of human rights, and rendering accountability for crimes against humanity elusive. President Hafez al-Assad’s regime continues to face down protesters with snipers and tanks, arresting and torturing children as young as ten years old. Yet Russia continues to provide Syria with arms and fails to use its close security relationship – it maintains a naval base at Tartus – to persuade Assad to stop the killing.