February 16th, 2012
04:40 PM ET

U.N. General Assembly passes resolution endorsing plan for al-Assad to step down

The United Nations General Assembly has passed a nonbinding resolution endorsing the Arab League plan for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down.

The vote was 137 in favor and 12 against, with 17 abstentions.

The symbolic resolution that condemns al-Assad's violent crackdown in Syria was introduced into the assembly after China and Russia blocked the Security Council from approving enforceable measures aimed at curbing the violence.

The vote followed news that al-Assad has moved up a vote on a constitutional referendum touted by his government as an important reform initiative. Critics have derided the move as window dressing.

"Today, the UN General Assembly sent a clear message to the people of Syria: the world is with you," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said in a statement. "An overwhelming majority of UN member states have backed the plan put forward by the Arab League to end the suffering of Syrians. Bashar al-Assad has never been more isolated. A rapid transition to democracy in Syria has garnered the resounding support of the international community. Change must now come."

The uprising in Syria - influenced by the Arab Spring movement that forced regime change in Egypt and Tunisia - was sparked about a year ago in the southern city of Daraa with demonstrators angered by the arrests of young people who scrawled anti-government graffiti.

Their grievances and calls for reforms were met with a violent security crackdown, and the unrest there served to catalyze anti-government ferment across the nation.

Thousands have died in the crackdown - well over 5,000, according to the United Nations. But the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist group, puts the toll at well over 7,000.

The resolution calls on Syria to end human rights violations and attacks against civilians immediately. It condemns all violence "irrespective of where it comes from" and "calls on all parties," including "armed groups," to halt violence.

Along with urging the government to cease violence, the resolution calls on it to protect the population, release prisoners "detained arbitrarily" during recent events, withdraw security personnel from cities and towns to barracks, and "guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstration."

It also calls for an "inclusive" and violence-free "Syrian led political process."

"This resolution strongly condemns Assad’s 11-month campaign of murder and torture. It demands an end to the killing machine," Rice said in her statement. "It demands that the Syrian government release all political prisoners; assure the freedom of peaceful demonstrations; and guarantee full and safe access to Arab League representatives and international media, and to humanitarian aid workers, who seek only to protect a people who have endured unimaginable violence.

"The international community has just given its firm support to the Arab League's plan to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, 'in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs.' The only question is how many more women, men and children - from demonstrators on Syria’s streets to those taking shelter in homes and hospitals - will suffer or be killed by Assad before that transition begins."

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Filed under: Syria • United Nations
soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. paul canada

    FOR some unknown reason world leaders are deliberately standing by and deliberately allowing this monster to slaughter those people, i think it quite obvious for some reason they want this slaughter to take place, the people responsible is not the syria protesters , it,s world leaders, this man is worse that hitler he will flatten city,s towns , homes, apartments, his plan is to totally destroy the people and the whole country of syria before his game changes, it is time for world goverments to take him out.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • robbie

      I think Hitler had any problems with taking down homes and apartments either, but i could be wrong.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pete/Ark

    If I had 1/10 of the money this "leader" has stolen from the people of Syria I"d be spending it in all the fun & stylish places I could find...not hiding behind fortified walls in a bomb wasted desert ghetto.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dazzle ©

    Okay CNN, maybe I need glasses or perhaps the mobile version is not as complete as the full story. What 12 countries voted against this and who were the 17 abstaining.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    U.N. General Assembly passes resolution endorsing plan for al-Assad to step down.
    O.K. Bashar step down. Come on! Step Down! Ple ple ple ple pleeeeeeeeeease step down? ASSad I SAID STEP DOWN!!!
    Pretty please bashful Bashar? With sugar on top? Comie on....da lil Bashar need to steppie down now.
    Somebody got a gun?

    February 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. gung hoe

    Oh ya now that sounds like a plan.Man if I was al asaad and heard that the u n passed that I would already be gone NOT!!!!!! Hey all you brainiaks at the U N I heard on the radio that you can buy testorone if ya want sum let me know and I can getcha the phone number

    February 17, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bill

    The UN Gen Assy can say anything but this will not end until a serious show of force intervenes OR it just continues to it's conclusion – whatever that may be. I doubt if any western country is up for killing more of their own soldiers or spending money on these recalcitrant, endlessly bickerinbg and violence-prone countries. To suggest that there will be "democracy" is nonsense. Each of the Arab Spring countries has slipped right back to their old, tribal, primitive systems and it's just another day for these people. Stop glamorizing this internal revolt with bloodshed photos to try to bait others into joining the fray again. These primitives kill more people with stoning, beheadings and honor killing every day than this little tribal/religious skirmish.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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