Statement on the Situation in Syria
UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND – STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION IN SYRIA
8 September 2013
The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ) is extremely concerned about the inability of states to resolve the current conflict in Syria. UNANZ recognizes that this is a complicated situation involving questions of internal security, allegations of the use of chemical weapons, the intervention of third parties, the impact of the veto power on the operation of the UN Security Council, and when and how to apply the “Right to Protect”.
UNANZ recalls, however, that the United Nations was established “to maintain international peace and security” and that its Security Council was established to seek solutions to conflicts between states “…first of all ….by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice”. Accordingly, we urge the member-states of the Security Council to commit more strongly to resolution of this dispute using peaceful means, and to discourage the use of military intervention that does not have the sanction of the Security Council.
We noted that UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-Moon when addressing leaders at the G20 meeting recently concluded in Russia, urged the members of the Security Council – the “P5” plus non-permanent members - to “discharge their responsibility fully and for the sake of the people of Syria.”
We believe that the situation is intolerable not only for the people of Syria, but for their neighbors - who are drawn into the conflict as parties to the conflict or as hosts to millions of desperate refugees and exiles - and indeed, for the peoples of all countries, who are again wondering how they can assist in repairing the damage to peace caused by belligerent political and ideological contests.
The human suffering resulting from this conflict is immense and intolerable. It highlights the need for certain elements of UN reform and for strengthening of global security arrangements, including definitive bans on all types of chemical weapons (although concern for deaths should include those caused by conventional weapons as well as by chemical weapons).
It is not sufficient for member countries to respond to the conflict in Syria on the basis of what they calculate as being to their own advantage or disadvantage. It is necessary, rather, that member countries view this conflict as detrimental to the interests of the world community. As with so many wars in the century which provoked the establishment of the League and then the United Nations, those of the present century produce losers rather than winners, and despair rather than glory. If the UN is to fulfill its purpose as the forum for resolution of disputes between member countries, the time to do so is now, lest events in Syria result in crimes against humanity rivaling those witnessed in Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and elsewhere.
UNANZ supports the statement of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) “Inaction is not an option”. UNANZ encourages all members of the United Nations to urge the Security Council to meet and agree on definite measures that will result in the cessation of conflict in Syria, mediation of the political issues in dispute, and acknowledgement of the need to address such humanitarian issues as Syrian citizens displaced by the conflict.
UNANZ furthermore urges member countries to only participate in armed force torestore international peace and security if efforts toward peaceful resolution fail, and is sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council.
The Syrian conflict should be referred to the International Criminal Court so that those implicated in serious violations of international law and crimes against humanity can be appropriately prosecuted. If the Security Council remains unable to act, the General Assembly should assume responsibility under the Uniting for Peace procedure.
UNANZ urges the New Zealand government to commit its moral support for United Nations processes, and to only join in an armed intervention to protect civilians which is legitimated under United Nations agreement. The question of participation in such an intervention should be addressed in parliament, so that New Zealand citizens and their representatives can address all the issues surrounding this critical question.
United Nations Association of New Zealand