Saudi Arabia declines UN Security Council seat
Dubai, October 18, 2013
Saudi Arabia said on Friday it was declining its United Nations Security Council rotating seat, citing "double standards" that made it hard for the world body to end conflict and wars.
"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.
It said it was unable to take its seat until reforms were introduced, but did not specify what reforms it wanted.
The Security Council has been divided on how to handle the civil war in Syria, with Western powers pushing for stronger sanctions against President Bashar Al-Assad and Russia vetoing resolutions to that end. Saudi Arabia has been backing rebels in that conflict.
The US, Britain, France, Russia and China are permanent members of the Security Council and hold veto powers. Other states are brought onto the body on a rotating basis.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia, Chad and Nigeria were elected by the UN General Assembly to serve a two-year term on the Security Council.
Chile and Lithuania also won seats on the 15-member council. There are five veto-wielding permanent council members and 10 temporary members without veto power.
The group elected on Thursday will replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Morocco and Togo on the Security Council on January 1, 2014. They were unopposed, but had to obtain approval from two-thirds of the 193-member General Assembly.
Of the 191 UN members who voted, Lithuania won 187 votes, Chile and Nigeria each picked up 186 votes, Chad secured 184 votes and Saudi Arabia 176 votes.
A senior Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, welcomed the election of Saudi Arabia, a key Middle East country, as the world attempts to bring to an end a 2-1/2-year-old civil war in Syria that has killed more than 100,000.
"Our election today is a reflection of a long-standing policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes in peaceful means," said Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, after the vote.
Al-Mouallimi told reporters that Saudi Arabia supported the Syrian struggle for "freedom and prosperity and unity." "We look forward to working with the rest of the international community to help our Syrian brothers achieve their objectives," he said. -Reuters