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Independent NZ initiatives needed on Syria

3 September 2013

Independent NZ initiatives needed on Syria

A unilateral military strike against Syria could have unintended consequences without preventing the further use of chemical weapons or helping end the disastrous conflict, warns Labour’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Phil Goff.

Mr Goff has written today to Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, seeking a cross-party briefing on the Syrian crisis and the options New Zealand is considering in terms of its response.

Mr Goff was also successful in winning unanimous support from Parliament in a motion condemning the poison gas attack and promoting specific responses to it through the United Nations Security Council.

“I don’t believe New Zealand’s and the world’s only options are either to do nothing or to support a military strike”, Mr Goff says.

“As a small country wanting to strengthen its reputation for independence, there are initiatives we can promote along side other countries.

“The first is have the Security Council unequivocally condemn the use of poison gas once the UN Weapons Inspection team has reported. There should be no impunity for those responsible. The Security Council should with one voice demand that those responsible be held to account. The Council should be pushing for the removal and destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons.

“A unilateral military strike may make the likelihood of deaths through chemical weapons more rather than less likely. It risks broadening the conflict into a regional one. It would take focus and the pressure off the Syrian regime and place it on to the US with regard to the legitimacy and efficacy of the strike.

“New Zealand should also promote through the Security Council a cessation of weapons supply to the combatant parties which fuels the conflict.

“There are no easy answers, but a military strike doesn’t provide any long-term solutions to the critical issues and may make matters worse”, Phil Goff said.


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