The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution backing an Arab League plan that calls for Syria’s president to step down and strongly condemns human rights violations by his regime.
The vote last night in the 193-member world body was 137-12 with 17 abstentions.
Russia and China, which vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council, voted against the resolution.
There are no vetoes in the General Assembly and while their resolutions are not legally binding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues.
Supporters were hoping for a high “yes” vote to deliver a strong message to President Bashar Assad to immediately end all human rights violations and attacks on civilians and hand power to his vice-president.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the vote sent an “unambiguous” message to Damascus that the violence against protesters who have challenged the Assad regime must stop immediately.
He called on UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special representative to work alongside the new Friends of Syria group, which meets for the first time in Tunisia on February 24.
“Today members of the UN voted overwhelmingly to back the Arab League’s plan for a Syrian-led solution to the crisis,” said Mr Hague.
“The resolution, which explicitly endorsed the Arab League plan of November 2 as well as its decisions on January 22 and February 12, was co-sponsored by 72 countries and supported by 137 members of the Assembly. It sent a clear signal of the international community’s condemnation of the Syrian regime’s actions and intention to hold to account those responsible for the ongoing atrocities.
“The message is unambiguous. The violence must stop immediately.”
Mr Hague added: “I look forward to discussing how we can support the Arab League further at the Friends of Syria meeting next week. I hope that the UN secretary general will swiftly appoint a special representative to work alongside them.
“President Assad and the Syrian regime must heed the call of the international community and allow a peaceful political transition to resolve the crisis. President Assad and those around him should be under no doubt that we will continue to support the Syrian people in their aspiration for a peaceful political transition in Syria.”