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Amid BRICS' rise and 'Arab Spring', a new global order forms

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In New York, meanwhile, European UN envoys worked overtime on a resolution against the Assad regime's behavior. A mild final version didn't contain the word "sanctions," but it did call for access for aid groups, the exercise of "fundamental freedoms," a peaceful political outcome, and other standard earmarks of what could be called civil society norms.

In Europe, the resolution was seen as both supporting the narrative of the Arab uprisings and standing up for deeply held European values. As a joint communiqué by France, Portugal, Germany, and Britain stated later, the resolution "contained nothing that any member of this Council should have felt the need to oppose...."

Yet opposed they were. On Oct. 4, both Russian and Chinese ambassadors raised their hands in a joint veto. Brazil and India abstained (along with South Africa and Lebanon), giving further heft to the veto. The BRICS spoke. US Ambassador Susan Rice and the American delegation were visibly furious and walked out. Ms. Rice said the next day that the vetoes ran against Syrian citizens' "yearning for liberty and human rights." Ambassador Gerard Araud of France said, "Our aim was – and remains – a simple one: to bring an end to the Syrian regime's brutal crackdown against its own people, who are legitimately demanding the exercise of the most basic rights...."

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