On Tuesday, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted 33-4 to condemn Syria's deadly crackdown on protesters and launch an investigation into atrocities allegedly committed by Syrian security forces, with Russia and China voting against the resolution and the four Arab voting members of the council--Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia--voting in favor of the measure. Western officials are hailing the vote as a sign of the Syrian regime's international isolation, and the AP notes that the resolution "still had bite" despite Russia and China toning down the final language. But a scan of Human Rights Council coverage over the past several months suggests several reasons to doubt whether the body's actions will have any meaningful impact on the Syrian uprising.
For starters, the Human Rights Council, which was established in 2006 to replace the U.N. Human Rights Commission, took almost identical actions back in April, to no avail. In a 26-9 vote, the body passed a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Syria's human rights abuses and calling for a U.N mission to investigate the violence. But the Syrian regime simply decided to bar the human rights team from the country. As the BBC notes today, "the big question now is whether Syria will co-operate with the UN investigators."