The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, took to the podium of the General Assembly on Thursday to deplore the lack of action by the Security Council, the United Nations body with legally binding powers, over its failure to end the bloodbath in Syria, blaming in particular the paralyzing power of veto held by the body’s five permanent members.
Despite his fighting words, Mr Key was speaking to an nearly empty assembly hall because many leaders have now left New York. The human toll is real.
“We can not ignore the huddled travellers in the railway stations of Europe, or the reality of refugees scratching out a meagre existence in camps or makeshift homes in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon”, Key said.
Mr Key and wife Bronagh managed to secure a photo with Barack and Michelle Obama during a cocktail party the Obamas hosted in New York for leaders attending the UN General Assembly.
New Zealand would continue to play an active role to try and address such issues for the duration of its time on the Council.
That was worsened by the practice of the permanent members pre-negotiating outcomes to the exclusion of the 10 elected members.
John Key said New Zealand will be supporting a proposal put forward this year to limit the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations.
“Nowhere is the re-setting of relationships needed more than in Syria”. An important first step to ensure New Zealand has credibility is to double its own refugee quota which hasn’t increased in nearly three decades, seeing the country languish at 90th in the world on per capita intake.
“At the same time we see the consequences of the Security Council’s failure to act over the past four years”, Key said. Its time for it to stop talking about whats right and do whats right. Its time for its members to set aside their vested interests and historical alliances in order to stop the violence and end the suffering, he declared.
While the council sat on its hands, thousands were dying and millions were displaced.
The speech followed yesterday’s Security Council meeting of foreign ministers at which New Zealand representative Murray McCully slated the council for failing to reach any resolution on Syria.