SG CALLS FOR ACTION ON SYRIA
Citing lesson of Srebrenica, Ban invokes R2P
Ban Ki-moon talks with Lakhdar Brahimi, newly appointed Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed a special meeting of the General Assembly on Wednesday, urging them to take action to stop the violence currently consuming Syria. Recent estimates suggest that August was the deadliest month yet of the ongoing conflict between rebel factions and the Syrian army, with over 5,000 reported killed and many more wounded. The majority of these victims, it is believed, are civilians.
"'Never again' is the oft-heard cry,” the SG said. “But I am haunted by the fear that we do not live up to this call. The responsibility to protect is a concept whose time has come. For too many millions of victims, it should have come much earlier."
Mr. Ban’s comments made use of the some of the sharpest language yet invoked by the SG urging the Security Council to break their paralysis on the issue, and take a genuine stand to end violence in the country.
“The Council's paralysis does the Syrian people harm,” he said. “It also damages its own credibility and weakens a concept that was adopted with such hope and expectations. Let us by all means continue to talk through the responsibility to protect in all its aspects.
“Each year we achieve greater precision and common understanding. But let us recognize that we face an urgent test here and now. Words must become deeds. Promise must become practice."
Invoking the “responsibility to protect,” Mr. Ban linked the conflict in Syria with instances in the past where the UN failed to act, resulting in massacres. Specifically, he compared the situation to the one in Bosnia in 1995, where 8,000 men and boys were killed as UN peacekeepers stood idly by. He cited the lessons of Srebrenica, reminding the General Assembly that he did not want future generations of UN leaders to have to apologize for actions – or inactions – of today.
Military support for Syria’s rebel factions or direct intervention have been blocked on the UN Security Council by the veto powers of China and Russia, as have calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.