Nine countries – including China and Russia – voted against the measure, while 11 either abstained or were not present.
The council’s split suggests that the long-lived divide over human rights between Western and developed democracies on one side and developing, often autocratic regimes on the other is alive and well.
Declarations at Friday’s council session from Russia, China, and some other members suggest that a number of countries now feel Western countries have overstepped their bounds in using international condemnation of Libya to enter the conflict there, and they don’t want the same to occur in Syria.
The cautious international response took place as Friday protests in Syria reportedly erupted even in the heart of Damascus, where little public dissent had occurred over the past week of bloody demonstrations elsewhere. Reports from inside the country, difficult to confirm because foreign journalists are being kept out, claimed that perhaps “dozens” of people were killed Friday.
The council’s action in Geneva was followed in Washington by the US government’s first new sanctions on Syria since this year’s popular upheaval across the Middle East began pitting governments against their populations.