New Zealand delivers stinging criticism of Security Council over Syria
New Zealand has fired a fresh salvo at the United Nations Security Council's failure to act over Syria.
In a hard hitting speech during a Security Council debate on the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the organisation's failures over Syria were "symbolic of the dysfuntion and mistrust" that had characterised its performance on too many conflicts.
While he welcomed the debate, McCully voiced frustration that it would not result in any resolution, and the council would not even be able to agree a presidential statement or stop the fighting.
"Sadly this is symbolic of the dysfunction and mistrust that has characterised this Council's performance on Syria and too many of the conflicts that rage in the region. And it must stop. In Syria, 250,000 dead people and 12 million displaced by conflict should tell this Council it must stop; that we must work together to find a resolution," McCully said.
"We can all see what the path forward must involve. On one hand we must be pragmatic, we must take the situation as it is and the actors who are there, and collectively impose a transition process - one that will enable institutions and services to operate as we allow Syria to rebuild. On the other, we must uphold the principles of justice and international law that would rule out impunity for those responsible for mass atrocities."
But the deep differences between the five permanent members of the Security Council - Russia, the United States, Britain, France and China - stood in the way of a resolution, he said.
"Until members of this Council learn to cooperate to broker these compromises, we will live in a world which is eternally destabilised by the rivalries of the Middle East and North Africa; a world of constant workarounds as substitutes for Council leadership, and a growing and ultimately deafening demand for Security Council reform," McCully said.
As a temporary member of the Security Council, New Zealand is campaigning for the veto power to be watered down so it can't be used in cases of genocide or atrocities.
Prime Minister John Key will use his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) to refresh his call for veto power reform.
Key said his speeh to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday local time would be equally hard hitting.
But he also tried to be "upbeat and aspirational" about the future of the Security Council as well. While it was an institution with a lot of failings, it would be wrong to campaign to hard to get on the Security Council then "declare the whole thing as a failuire".
That was not the case, though it was failing to deliver the leadership the world needed during a crisis like Syria.
Syria has proved a flash point at the United Nations after Russian President Vladimir Putin sheeted home responsibility for the rise of Islamic State and violent extremism to the West and its Middle East policies.
The Security Council debate coincided with Russian airstrikes in Syria against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.
The strikes reportedly hit rebel-controlled areas of Homs and Hama provinces, causing casualties.
Speaking after the Security Council debate, McCully was critical of Russia's action.
"The jury is out [on Russia's motivation]. The words have been okay, the words about co-peration and trying to fight terrorism across the globe...that sounds fine. Then we have air strikes starting today and some ambiguity about what's meant by the Russian air strikes."
it was not clear whether solely Islamic State targets had been hit.
McCully would not be drawn, meanwhile, on whether he considered the timing deliberate.
"You can ask that quesiton of the Russians. I've got my own views."