The UN Security Council plans to meet informally on Tuesday to discuss a Western-Arab draft resolution on humanitarian aid access in conflict-torn Syria, a text Russia has dismissed as "detached from reality".
Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan presented their draft resolution meant to increase aid to Syria to the full 15-nation Security Council on Tuesday, diplomats said. Last week they had submitted it to the five permanent, veto-wielding members, including Russia. Moscow swiftly rebuked the proposal as a non-starter.
"The council is expected to meet informally (about the draft) this afternoon," a diplomat told Reuters.
It was not immediately clear when the council would vote on the text. Several diplomats said it was unlikely before next week given Russia's dismissive initial reaction and concerns about upsetting fragile peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition, which resumed this week in Geneva.
Since the war began in 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and threatening it with sanctions. Moscow has suggested that it is ready to use its veto again.
"Our Western partners in the Security Council ... proposed that we cooperate in working out a resolution. The ideas they shared with us were absolutely one-sided and detached from reality," the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying after talks with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.
Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, has gone further. He predicted on Monday that the draft would fail: "This text is not going to be adopted, let me tell you.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Washington strongly supports the idea of such a resolution.
"The Assad regime's disregard for the welfare of the Syrian people is obvious and the need to remove the roadblocks to humanitarian access is beyond urgent," she said in a statement.
"The Security Council needs to speak with one voice," she said. "Every day the council remains silent, we let down the Syrian people, and we fail to uphold our role as guardians of international peace and security."
The war has killed more than 130,000 Syrians and driven a third of the population from their homes.
DIRE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
The opposition Syrian National Coalition urged the council to adopt the resolution, saying in a statement that the Security Council should adopt "measures ensuring the immediate stoppage of violence and access of aid to all those in need in Syria."
Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office in Geneva, said Syria's government had broken its obligations under international law, which requires states to ensure minimum food supplies, essential medicine and safe water.
"Almost none of these obligations have been met in Old Homs, and various other besieged areas in recent months," he said.
The Syrian government and opposition have agreed on a humanitarian pause to allow the delivery of aid to Homs, Syria's third-largest city, and the evacuation of civilians, though aid workers came under attack over the weekend.
The draft resolution condemns rights abuses by Syrian authorities and armed groups, and demands that the government stop all aerial bombardment of cities and towns and indiscriminate use of bombs, rockets and related weaponry. It also condemns "increased terrorist attacks" and calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Syria.
The draft also expresses an intent to impose sanctions on individuals and entities obstructing aid and if certain demands in the resolution are not met within 15 days of its adoption.
Asked if UN human rights chief Navi Pillay thought it was time for a UN Security Council resolution to force the Syrian government to meet its obligations, Colville said: "We certainly wouldn't object to actions by the Security Council."
UN aid chief Valerie Amos has repeatedly called on the council to use its influence to improve the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, though she has stopped short of demanding a legally binding resolution.
Lavrov said Russia would be ready to consider a draft only if it was "not about one-sided accusations aimed at the regime". He called on the Security Council to agree a resolution condemning "terrorist activity" in Syria.
Assad's government describes all of those fighting to oust him as terrorists and has pushed for efforts to combat "terrorism" to be the main focus of the peace talks in Geneva.
(Writing by Louis Charbonneau and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Steve Gutterman, Raissa Kasolowsky and Mohammad Zargham)