Skip to main content

No consensus in Security Council on Zimbabwe sanctions

No consensus in Security Council on Zimbabwe sanctions

A draft resolution calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe, including a travel ban and assets freeze on President Robert Mugabe and 12 other individuals, was not adopted by the Security Council today.

Permanent members China and Russia vetoed the text, with South Africa, Libya and Viet Nam also voting against the resolution.

The draft received 9 votes in favor – the necessary number for a majority – from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Italy and Panama, while Indonesia abstained.

Before the vote, Ambassador Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe stressed that “political dialogue is ongoing between the contending parties” in the country, adding that in his inauguration statement, Mr. Mugabe “reached out to the opposition and said that it was now imperative for the nation to look forward to the future with a sense of unity.”

But the United States, one of the resolution's 9 co-sponsors, disagreed. “There are not serious, substantive negotiations underway between the Mugabe regime and the opposition,” Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States told the Council after the vote.

Mr. Khalilzad said there is “no doubt” that the situation in Zimbabwe – where Mr. Mugabe was sole candidate in last month's presidential run-off after violence and intimidation directed towards the opposition forces led to the withdrawal of opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – impacts peace and security in the region.

The United Kingdom, which also sponsored the draft, emphasized that the resolution was not “an attempt to undermine ongoing mediation efforts,” Ambassador John Sawers said. “Precisely the opposite.”

He also said that today's text was “not a foray into the internal affairs of an African country,” citing previous Council actions taken on countries such as Sierra Leone, Sudan and Somalia.

Zimbabwe's problems “cannot be resolved by artificially elevating them to the degree of a threat to international peace and security. The Council's application here of enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter has no foundation and is excessive,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said.

Speaking to reporters following the open meeting, Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said that adopting the resolution would have been “counterproductive to the initiatives and efforts now underway by the Africans to find a solution to the problem in Zimbabwe,” adding that negotiations are under way in South Africa.

Echoing his comments, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa said that his delegation voted against the draft given his country's membership in the African Union (AU) and the South African Development Community (SADC).

He added that the AU Summit, which ended last week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, rather than call for sanctions against Zimbabwe, instead encouraged Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai “to honour their commitments to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace, stability, democracy and reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people.”

Further, the AU voiced its appreciation to SADC for its efforts to reconcile the parties, Mr. Kumalo said.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told the Council that the crisis in Zimbabwe not only represents a “moment of truth” for democracy on the continent but also poses a “challenge to the world.”

Briefing the body on the Sharm El-Sheikh summit, she said that “when an election is conducted in an atmosphere of fear and violence, its outcome cannot have a legitimacy that is built on the will of the people. Consequently, the principle of democracy is at stake.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also criticized the outcome of the run-off – which went ahead despite international appeals for a postponement given the violence and intimidation that preceded it – as illegitimate.

“The outcome did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result,” his spokesperson said in a 30 June statement. “The Secretary-General has said repeatedly that conditions were not in place for a free and fair election and observers have confirmed this from the deeply flawed process.”