Fresh calls for ceasefire from NZ and others, with new Security Council resolution on war-torn Syria
New Zealand is part behind fresh attempts to instil a ceasefire in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo, as reports of Government advancements cause heightened alarm at the United Nations.
Fighting has ramped up in recent weeks, with some reports out of Syria suggesting the Assad regime and its allies - which includes Russia - are mounting an offensive to take control before US President-elect Donald Trump takes power.
Up to 16,000 civilians have been displaced in recent weeks and heavy Russian shelling has left the major city bereft of any hospitals.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced New Zealand along with Egypt and Spain, have put forward a UN Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Aleppo.
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"The tabling of the joint resolution today follows negotiations between Security Council members over the last two weeks and builds on New Zealand's efforts during our Presidency of the Security Council in September," McCully said.
"We have long been of the view that the Security Council needs to live up to its responsibilities and the resolution we have put forward spells out the requirements for a ceasefire, humanitarian access, and a resumption of negotiations in Syria.
"Ultimately a resolution is not going to fix everything in Aleppo, but we need to try and put some pressure on those perpetuating the current violence to change their behaviour. If they are not willing to change their behaviour they need to accept the international condemnation and isolation that results from their actions," he said.
The presence of a few hundred Al-Nusra terrorists in Eastern Aleppo did not justify an "all-out attack" on more than 250,000 civilians, the bombing of every hospital in the city, and cutting off the population from aid and outside assistance.
"The resolution has been circulated to Security Council members today and we would like to see it put to a vote as soon as possible," McCully said.
His comments follow a further lashing of the council's inactivity, bounded by its own procedure - particularly the use of the veto. He suggest yesterday that New Zealand - armed with greater insight into the constraints of the council - would remain a vocal critic once its term on the council had ended.
"It's clear the security council is not going to reform itself. It's something that's going to happen in the wider UN body, and I'd just express the view that once we come of the council, our hands will be free to be active as a UN member," he said on Tuesday.
That was not to say New Zealand was holding back while it sat as a non-permanent member on the Security Council.
"I'm simply saying that we've been able to see from a unique vantage point, how the council works. We were critics of the veto when we went on to the council, we're strong critics now when we've experienced the council for one year and ten months.
The world was "not able to afford the cost of the conflict that it's allowing to occur", spending US$16b in providing humanitarian support through the UN, and another $9b on peacekeeping.