US Congress condemns UN

The United States House of Representatives has voted to condemn the Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements by 342-80 and was critical of the Obama administration for not vetoing the resolution.

Bizarrely they also said that the US should oppose and veto any future resolutions “that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel”. That a country can take a non-negotiable position regardless of the merits of any future resolution, and can veto everything, is a fundamental weakness of the UN – and of the US.

The US seems to be threatening the UN’s existence unless it becomes US compliant.

Politico: House condemns U.N. over Israel settlement vote

The House voted overwhelmingly to rebuke the United Nations for passing a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction, a bipartisan slap that also targets the Obama administration while signaling a rocky road ahead for U.S.-U.N. relations under soon-to-be-President Donald Trump.

The U.N. Security Council voted 14-0 to condemn Israeli settlements on Dec. 23, despite vigorous opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Trump, both of whom demanded that the United States exercise its veto.

The House measure, which passed 342-80 on Thursday, is likely to be followed by a similar, largely symbolic non-binding resolution in the Senate.

And there is talk in the US of throwing their money out of the UN cot case.

Some U.S. lawmakers already are saying they want to go further in the coming months by stripping the United Nations of U.S. funding.

So they will only support the UN if they get their own way? This is pathetic, especially of a super power that should support the principal of UN votes on international issues regardless of them getting what they want.

Perhaps the UN should be based somewhere other than the US.

“The United States Government should oppose and veto future United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel,” the House measure states. It also demands that the U.N. repeal or fundamentally alter the measure it passed.

It is ridiculous to state a position on any future resolutions involving Israel. As the US has veto power this is basically trying to say that the UN shouldn’t deal with any issue involving Israel.

And demanding that the UN should repeal a resolution that passed 14-0 is just plain nuts.

If the US tries a counter resolution once Donald Trump takes over it is unlikely to succeed as it would need a reversal of a majority of countries in the Security Council (the membership has changed since 1 January) and would need agreement of all of the other four permanent members. That’s unlikely to happen.

Trump’s decision to weigh in came at the behest of the Israelis, and it was unusual in the sense that during presidential transition periods the incoming commander-in-chief typically defers to the sitting president on policy decisions.

But Trump has been trying to meddle early on a number of issues, it seems to be his way. The UN may be at serious risk of becoming more dysfunctional with the US under Trump’s presidency.

That there were several dozen Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, who voted against the resolution will be seen as a victory in some corners, including among left-leaning Jewish activists who took comfort in the fact that rival resolutions with softer language had also been proposed.

A minor victory if any.

Nonetheless, that so many Democrats and Republicans joined to condemn the U.N. resolution once again underscored the depth of the bipartisan support for the Israeli government in Congress.

And that underscores the impotence of the UN on Middle East issues. Entrenched side taking means little of value will ever be done.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who chairs a key appropriations subcommittee, has vowed to “suspend or significantly reduce” that America’s contribution to the United Nations, which amounts to about 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget.

If the US doesn’t get what it wants it won’t continue it’s support.

If the US pulls it’s support it should also lose it’s permanent member status.

And if the US won’t support the fundamental principals of how the UN works – democratically albeit flawed due to the extraordinary voting power of the permanent members – then the UN should consider relocating out of the US.

“I think we have to participate in the United Nations, but I’m very disappointed in our lack of our exercising our rights at the United Nations, or exercising them properly,” said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, adding that he is interested to hear the details of Graham’s proposal and is “inclined to be supportive.”

So their grizzles should be directed at themselves, the United States, rather than directing their petulance at the UN that operated as it is designed to do.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, meanwhile, said “there are certain elements of the U.N. we want to keep.”

They want to keep the bits that allow the US to get it’s own way, and eliminate the bits that don’t do what the US wants? This is pathetic posturing. The world is bigger than the US, and the UN should be too.

The US-UN relationship is likely to deteriorate.

Trump has expressed skepticism about the nature and role of the United Nations over the years, in line with his suspicion of multilateral organizations more broadly.

The president-elect spoke Wednesday morning on the phone with the new U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, according to transition officials who did not give details of the conversation. Guterres previously led the U.N. agency that helps refugees and has been a passionate advocate for that cause; Trump has insisted the U.S. should not accept any Syrian refugees, putting him at odds with U.N. priorities.

It looks like Trump wants the UN to be a compliant arm of US power and decisions and preference, but he isn’t president-elect of the world.

Trump could munt the UN – without the US it would be meaningless, but it can’t bullied into compliance with US wishes either. Russia and China at least would resist this.

The US under Trump can’t dominate the UN and dominate the world and at the same time  withdraw from it’s UN responsibilities and withdraw from international trade agreements.

There could be a fundamental conflict in Trump’s aims.

McCully on UN vote on Israel

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has surfaced and has spoken about the Security Council vote on Israeli settlements.

NZ Herald: Murray McCully on backlash to UN Security Council resolution: ‘We are not anti-Israel’

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says it is “regrettable” his electorate office was vandalised by people opposed to New Zealand’s sponsorship of a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And while he understood some people felt strongly about it, there was nothing new in New Zealand’s position.

“Obviously we have had a significant number of communications from people who are concerned about the issue,” he told the Herald today.

“But it is very difficult to get past the fact that it is long-standing New Zealand policy to support the two-state solution, to condemn incitement and violence, and to call for a halt to the settlements process.

“These are not new New Zealand policies.”

“We have a longstanding friendship with Israel and our foreign policy positions have been very balanced and fair on these matters.”

“It is simply incorrect to assert that we are anti-Israel in any shape or form.

“The fact is that there was a particular resolution before the council that our longstanding policy positions support, and so we supported it.”

“We hope that a normal friendly relationship with Israel will resume soon.”

There is nothing much new in that but McCully may have felt it necessary to address some of the criticisms aimed at him and the Government.

An eye opener for the WO bubble

Followers of Whale Oil over the the past two weeks will have seen a daily diet of pro-Israel and anti-Security Council resolution, anti-Murray McCully and anti-National government posts.

There has been no attempt at balance, and little attempt at accuracy – support of the Security Council vote (14-0) has been labelled as anti-Israel, but obviously countries like the United States and United Kingdom (and New Zealand) are not anti-Israel overall, they have just become exasperated by Israel’s ongoing provocative settlements.

The activist campaign on WO continues today. Already there has been Is the Maori Party a friend of Israel? which promised much (teasers were posted yesterday) and delivered little.

And  Face of the Day  featured another cherry picked article (also posted on here ‘One Nation’ wants to kick New Zealand). Comments are more interesting:

Hookerphil:

I am interested in just what the rest of New Zealand outside of W/O actually think. Stuff accepted just 4 comments on this story, one person wrote “that Israel violated international law with their ILLEGAL settlements, therefore it’s only logical they be reprimanded for that.” This has received 395 up votes. I am really surprised at that. It would appear that Israel are not overly supported in this Country – perhaps the ripple in the polls may actually be very small by the simple tactic of ignoring it.

BigNose:

Yep, majority of comments and votes on other news sites/blogs are all very anti-Israeli. While it is probably no more than the screaming skull’s rent-a-crowd, it is an eye opener.

No, not anti-Israel, most are simply pro the Security Council resolution.

Rick H:

As I have been saying all along – – -the vast majority of NZ people (and probably most in the rest of the western world as well) know very little to nothing at all about the facts of the middle east. They believe what they have seen on the TV over the years, that Israel is the evil one.

No amount of trying to show them the real truth makes a difference.
They turn off and simply don’t want to be told.
They aren’t interested.

I’m not surprised that these two Oilers are ‘very surprised’ and find it ‘an eye opener’ what reality outside the WO bubble is.

The ‘truth’ and gospel according to Whale Oil is not what the vast majority of New Zealanders see preached.

Typical of online bubbles they portray any sort of disagreement as totally anti their way of thinking, you are either friend or enemy, similarly of WO and of Israel.

With such a persistent one-sided diet that’s what often happens.

And those who venture out of the bubble are shocked that the real world is more mixed and nuanced, and see this as totally opposite to the lines they have been fed.

Christie:

Apart from articles on WO, I have seen and heard very little about it, and have had no discussions about it at all.

I’ve seen quite a bit in a variety of places – it’s there if you look for it beyond your self reinforcing zone.

It’s funny that different opinions are seen as an eye opener.

Postscript: “This is a 2000-year-old struggle that the Māori Party is not about to wade into. Both sides claim tangata whenua status. However, we note that the current sanctions imposed against Pallestine are inhumane and cause great suffering of innocent women and children.”

I’m not surprised that the Maori Party didn’t want to ‘wade into’ the frenzy at Whale Oil, but they have probably fed it by suggesting that “innocent (Palestinian) women and children”  are suffering.

Update: while I was writing this post pro-Israel post #3 so far today at WO – Guest Post: Our world: The PLO’s zero-sum game – another cherry picked article from the Jerusalem Post.

‘One Nation’ wants to kick New Zealand

The Aussies have been a bit negative about the Security Council vote by Angola, China, Egypt, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay, United Kingdom and Venezuela (and not vetoed by the Unites States) against Israeli settlements and supporting a two state solution.

None more so than One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts who wants Australia to clamp down on New Zealand immigration and immigrants in response to the vote. Crazy.

Last week Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop implied they would  have gone against the position held by New Zealand, the United States and the 13 other countries, but they can say that because they weren’t there, it doesn’t mean they would have voted against Resolution 2334.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz is reported to have been critical of New Zealand when he released his own statement condemning the resolution, but all I can find is United Nations vote on Israel:

The Foreign Minister is absolutely right to stand with Israel over the United Nations’ ill-founded and poorly considered motion in relation to Israel.

While Australia did not have a vote on the Security Council, it is concerning that the Obama Administration effectively cheered on this silly act. This kind of behaviour is exactly why the American people embraced Donald Trump and the British people embraced Brexit.

We should be unashamed in our support of Israel – the most free and democratic nation in the middle east which shares the Judeo Christian ethics shared by the Western world.

The unelected United Nations bureaucrats should take a serious look in the mirror over these latest actions which come following a long list of actions which seem to indicate it wants to be a left-wing thinktank rather than a bringer of peace and good to the world.

That doesn’t name New Zealand, it just takes a swipe at President Obama’s administration.

Now a One Nation’s Roberts has more than taken a direct swipe at New Zealand, he wants to cut New Zealand immigration and benefits.

Australia’s One Nation party says Kiwi migrants should be punished over Israel

Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts said he was “appalled” by the Security Council resolution, which called for an immediate end to any and all settlement activities in disputed zones, including East Jerusalem, which he said “have contained Jewish settlements since biblical times”.

But Roberts went further, accusing New Zealand of “stabbing our ally in the front”, while criticising the Turnbull government for not putting enough pressure on New Zealand to stop it.

“2017 marks the centenary of the ANZACs’ brave actions to free the Palestinian territory – now Israel – from Ottoman oppression of Christians, Jews and other groups,” he said.

“It would never have been possible for those brave ANZACs, charging as part of the Light Horse Brigade, to have ever thought that events 100 years later would go full circle and future generations would betray the very people they were about to liberate.

Accusing New Zealand of a “hostile attitude” towards Israel, Roberts suggested Australia take a stronger stance against New Zealand “settlements”.

“At the very least, we should look at further cutting benefits for New Zealanders living in Australia,” he said.

“Perhaps a tougher immigration policy aimed towards New Zealand would stop Kiwis from establishing settlements in Australia.”

That’s ridiculous.

Roberts’ statement presents a marked turnaround in One Nation policy, with the party previously calling for changes to make to make it easier for New Zealanders to apply for citizenship and social security.

“We have opened our borders and our hearts to people from all over the world offering them the opportunity to become Australian citizens, but not to our closest neighbours, our allies and our ANZAC mates,” the One Nation policy says.

“They are working, paying their taxes, and raising families, but when hardship hits they cannot apply to receive help from our social security system. Many New Zealanders are then left homeless, destitute and desperate.

“We believe Australians would open their hearts to our neighbours. Therefore, we are calling on the government to change the current laws.”

One Nation (or at least Roberts) sounds very flakey.

Threatening punitive measures against one country involved in a unanimous UN vote is pathetic.

There is no way Australia would do any of what Roberts has suggested, but it shows they have crazies in their Parliament too.

Not all Aussies are anti. Bob Carr, ex foreign minister and a patron of Australian Labor Friends of Palestine, wrote on the resolution – The genius of the UN’s resolution on Israeli settlements:

Both Labor and Likud governments have funded settlers, many religious extremists, and gifted them the best land.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are denied building approval for homes, even a chicken coop. If in Area C they throw up a granny flat it’s promptly demolished by army bulldozers.

If Israel is really open to giving the land back in a peace deal why allow settlements in the first place? That’s the question, if I’d been sharper, I would have put to my interlocutor. And settlements not just along the border. Thirty-five per cent are now being approved deep in the territory everyone sees as an ultimate Palestinian state.

This is the essence of the boiling US frustration that resulted in America refusing to veto Friday’s Security Council resolution.

Two former prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have warned their country risks getting saddled with apartheid, proving again that searching argument and criticism are among Israel’s most resilient features.

Donald Trump can tweet and bluster. But the resolution stands as international law, to be taken seriously by cabinets and bind the International Criminal Court. After years of provocation by Israeli hawks that’s the genius of what Obama and Kerry have pulled off.

Abetz and Roberts can bluster all they like too. Australia weren’t on the Security Council.

And Carr posits:

In the meantime consider the following motion, an elegantly simple one: “Given that Israel continues to defy the 2016 resolution of the Security Council and spreads settlements so that a Palestinian state is no longer possible we move that every resident of Greater Israel be afforded equal rights. This includes the right to vote in national elections.”

UN endorses Syrian ceasefire

The UN security Council has unanimously endorsed the Syrian ceasefire deal as well as peace talk plans, but tensions around the ceasefire remain.

BBC: Syria conflict: UN endorses Syria ceasefire deal

The resolution, drafted by Russia, also calls for rapid access for humanitarian aid to be delivered across the country.

The ceasefire, which began just over a day ago, has mostly held.

But Syria’s main rebel alliance had threatened to abandon the truce by 18:00 GMT if the government continued to attack areas under its control.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) issued the ultimatum to Russia – Syria’s key ally – amid reports of intense bombardment by government forces on the rebel-held Wadi Barada area of Damascus, which the rebels say is in breach of the truce.

Shelling on the area concerned ceased just minutes before the deadline, the group’s legal adviser, Ousama Abou Zeid, said.

If they agreed to a ceasefire why would they keep bombing? That doesn’t seem a good way of working towards a peace agreement.

The UN resolution comes against a backdrop of deadlock among the veto-wielding members of the Security Council, with Russia supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the US, UK and France insisting he must step down as part of any deal to end the war.

Russia and Turkey also back opposite sides in the conflict, with Turkey supporting the rebellion against Mr Assad.

While Syria, Russia, Turkey and the UN appear to be working in the right direction the highly factionalised civil and international war looks to be far from over.

It applies across Syria but does not cover certain rebel groups including the jihadists of so-called Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), and the Kurdish YPG militia.

They are a significant part of the Syrian problems.

93181891_iraq_syria_control_28_12_2016_624map

It’s going to take a lot of resolve and probably quite a lot more fighting to sort that mess out.

I wonder if Russia is moving on peace agreements now while the US is trapped between the Obama and Trump administrations.

Whale Oil on UN vote on Israel

It’s no surprise to see hard out support from Slater for the Israeli position after the UN Security Council voted 14-0 against them over settlements on disputed or private land in the Middle East.

There has been a string of supporting posts for Israel and against anyone involved in the vote against them by Slater. And he has often written (or had material supplied for) pro-Israel posts for years.

There have been 81 posts at Whale Oil tagged ‘Israel’ so far this year, and 209 since 1 January 2015.Of course they can post whatever they like, and many of these have only minor references to Israel (albeit tagged by the author) but this is a remarkable focus on Israel for a New Zealand blog.

And if you go back about 250 ‘Israel’ tagged posts, to August 2014, there are a string of posts reporting on a visit Slater made to Israel – a trip in part paid for by the Israel government.

Stuff reported at the time: Blogging, money and blurred lines

The man at the centre of the Dirty Politics firestorm sits on a leafy street in Tel Aviv, Israel, just a block from the shores of the Mediterranean, sipping a blended mint lemonade.

Cameron “Whale Oil” Slater is bleary-eyed, having spent 24 hours on a plane, and now finds himself in a war zone during a ceasefire. It’s Friday in Israel; Saturday back home.

He’s one of a group of international journalists invited to visit by the Israeli government, which has been earning bruising international condemnation over the civilian death toll in the Gaza conflict.

The Israeli embassy approached him about the trip, he says, and covered some costs, but he is paying for a significant portion of his travels. He has posted anti-Hamas and pro-Israel stories on his blog in the past.

And has continued to do that. Interesting that the Israeli embassy approached Slater.

The arrangement may sound vaguely familiar to anyone who has read certain chapters of Nicky Hager’s controversial new book Dirty Politics, which is based on thousands of emails stolen from Slater’s computer.

Besides his central claims that National used Slater’s Whale Oil blog as an conduit for “dirty” attacks on its political enemies, Hager also says Slater took cash in exchange for running stories for a range of commercial clients.

He writes that certain articles posted under Slater’s name were word-for-word reprints of material supplied by PR man Carrick Graham, whose clients include tobacco and alcohol companies. Hager writes that Slater was paid around $6500 a month by Graham, for work he estimates would have taken perhaps an hour.

When asked if he received any payment from Graham, his company or associates, and whether there was any understanding that he would run copy for that payment, Slater gives an emphatic “No”. He stands by his byline.

“Any copy I am using, I’ve had direct input into – I may have helped write it, I’ve certainly edited it.

“There are large corporates that I work with. They have particular issues and as a result of that those issues are then turned into an interesting story. I take stories, create stories, work on stories, provide commentary on a number of different things and whatever takes my fancy at the time.”

The Security Council vote against Israel seems to have taken Slater’s “fancy at the time”. Since the vote was announced these posts have been on Whale Oil:

The focus on the UN vote stands out amongst otherwise mostly Christmas or trivial posts.

Whether it’s a personal or a financial interest it’s a topic that Slater certainly fancies quite a bit.

Israeli ambassador recalled from NZ

After New Zealand helped get a resolution passed in the United Nations Securioty Council condemning Israeli settlements on disputed land Israel recalled their ambassador from New Zealand.

NZ Herald: Israeli ambassador recalled from New Zealand after UN resolution

The Israeli Government has recalled its ambassador from New Zealand after the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israel’s continued settlements.

New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution, which said the settlements violate international law and undermine a two-state solution in Israel’s conflict with Palestine.

The resolution was passed 14-0 at the last council meeting of the year, and New Zealand’s last meeting in its two-year term as an elected member of the Security Council.

Loud applause was heard in the packed chamber when the US ambassador, Samantha Power, abstained.

All remaining members of the security council, including Egypt, which had drafted the resolution and had been briefly persuaded by Israel to postpone the vote, voted in support.

Malaysia, Senegal and Venzuela also sponsored the resolution and are likely to face diplomatic reprisals too.

The US abstained but the outgoing and incoming Presidents are split on this.

Egypt was pressured by US President-elect Donald Trump and Israel to delay the resolution. It eventually dropped it but the co-sponsors ploughed ahead with it.

Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that the outgoing Obama Administration should veto the resolution – but it abstained, allowing it to pass.

The US decision to abstain was immediately condemned by Netanyahu’s office as “shameful”, which pointedly referred to Israel’s expectation of working more closely with Trump.

Following the vote Trump, tweeted: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan 20.”

He would support breaches of international law?

Is he going to drain the United Nations too?

The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.

About 430,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.

Murray McCully was involved in this:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully told the Herald Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him before the vote ambassador Itzhak Gerberg would be recalled if the resolution passed.

McCully said he had been informed the ambassador had been recalled “for consultations”.

“It underscores the fact that Israel is strongly opposed to the council position on the issue. That is not a great surprise to us.

“But we hope that the friendship that has existed between the two countries will be able to endure regardless of different view on this issue.”

Asked if it was a victory, McCully said: “It is a victory for those who are keen to see the Security Council take some action on the Middle East peace process after eight years of complete inaction.”

It would have been inappropriate to take the Foreign Affairs portfolio off him just as this was going through the Security Council.

 

Guterres in, Clark concedes

After getting three ‘discourage’ votes from the five permanent members of the Security Council – any of which could veto her – Helen Clark has conceded she is out of the running for the position of United Nations Secretary General.

Clark has congratulated former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres as the ‘clear winner’ after he received no veto votes – he got 13 ‘encourage’ votes and 2 no opinion votes.

Congratulations Antonio . Clear winner in selection for . A longtime colleague: we were Prime Ministers & UN heads together:

A formal vote is now expected soon to confirm that the Security Council will recommend Guterres.

cubpicvusaastn

RNZ: Helen Clark’s bid to become UN Secretary General over

It has been as good as over for some time.

The 15-member Security Council cast secret ballots for each of the 10 candidates with the choices of encourage, discourage or no opinion. Guterres received 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes.

“Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres,” Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters with his 14 council colleagues standing behind him.

“We have decided to go to a formal vote tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, and we hope it can be done by acclamation,” said Mr Churkin, who is council president for October.

For Mr Guterres to be formally recommended to the 193-member General Assembly for election, the Security Council still needs to adopt a resolution behind closed doors. The resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass.

It seems like the appointment of Guterres is pretty much a formality now.

From the World Federation of United Nations Associations:

WFUNA Congratulates the Next Secretary-General of the UN

After the release of the results of the sixth informal Straw Poll today, and a subsequent formal vote tomorrow, it appears that the United Nations Security Council has reached a decision on a candidate to be nominated to the General Assembly to assume the position of UN Secretary-General. The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) welcome this show of unity by the Security Council.

The forthcoming nomination of H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres comes after the candidate availed himself to the openness and transparency of the new process, engaging in a number of civil society debates and dialogues.

WFUNA count upon H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres to follow through on his many commitments made during this process. In particular, we look forward to the following:

  • The reconstitution of UN Agency mandates and priorities to place the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the core work of the entire system
  • The introduction of a time-bound, clearly defined roadmap with benchmarks to achieve full gender and regional equity for high-level positions in the United Nations system
  • The commitment by the United Nations system as a whole to ensure that there is no impunity for UN forces and staff who commit sexual exploitation and abuse, and the prioritization of the protection of civilians for all UN Peace Operations
  • The integration of human rights throughout each UN agency and UN mission, a continuation of the legacy of H.E. Ban Ki-Moon’s Human Rights up Front initiative, and an institutional recommitment to mass atrocity prevention
  • A complete institutional commitment to the Sustaining Peace agenda and a recommitment to preventative diplomacy at the highest political level
  • A new mechanism and approach to foster serious responsibility and burden sharing to deal with the unprecedented refugee crisis the world is currently facing
  • Outside the box thinking to deal with the world’s humanitarian crisis that leverages new funding that does not undermining previous development cooperation resources
  • Further protection for civil society around the world and for their access and inclusion to United Nations processes
  • A commitment to the role of youth as agents for change, with the acknowledgement that Youth should be involved in decision-making at all levels
  • An attitude of independence throughout his tenure as UN Secretary-General to ensure that the international community can be supported to best deal with the many crises and issues facing the world today

If voted in by the General Assembly, WFUNA looks forward to supporting H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres in his role, and will do the utmost to work with his office and the rest of the UN system to help deliver on these promises.

Key: “Syria has become a byword for failure”

RNZ reports on John Key at the Security Council: Devastating Syria conflict ‘a byword for failure’

Prime Minister John Key has told the UN the conflict in Syria is a byword for failure and the international response has so far failed.

Mr Key chaired a heated Security Council session on Syria in which the US called for all planes to be grounded in key areas of the country to save the truce there, following an attack on an aid convoy.

Opening the meeting, Mr Key said the Syrian civil war the most devastating conflict of the 21st century and no other other issue more urgently demanded the attention of world leaders.

The conflict had created security threats that reach well beyond Syria’s borders and after more than five years of violence, Syria had become a byword for failure.

“Failure of the parties and their supporters to put peace, and the lives of innocent people ahead of self-interest and zero-sum politics. Failure to respond to the crisis early to prevent this tragedy. And a collective political failure, including by this Council, to do what must be done to end the conflict.

The problem was not a lack of direction, he said, as the pathway for ending this conflict was set out by the Security Council last December but the timetable for implementing them was never carried out.

“Today we all need to commit to restoring the cessation of hostilities, delivering aid to those who need it, and restarting political talks.

“Last week’s arrangement between US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov represents the best hope we have seen in some time.

“We encourage Russia and the US to show sustained leadership and not let this opportunity slip away.”

The next few days would be critical in restoring the cessation of hostilities and getting humanitarian aid flowing, he said. “We urge the Syrian parties to abide by the arrangement. This Council should unite to back those efforts.”

But the US and Russia followed looking as though a solution in Syria may be as difficult to achieve as ever.

Lavrov called for an independent investigation into the convoy attack, and said all parties needed to take simultaneous steps to stop the war.

Kerry said the future of Syria was “hanging by a thread”. He said Monday’s attack, which killed 20 civilians, had raised profound doubt over whether Russia and the Syrian government would live up to terms of the ceasefire deal.

Moscow has denied being involved. An impassioned Mr Kerry faced off with Lavrov saying the bombing of the aid convoy raised “profound doubt whether Russia and the Assad regime can or will live up to” ceasefire obligations. Listening to Mr Lavrov made him feel like he was living in a “parallel universe”, Mr Kerry said.

Parallel universes:

  • The aims and ideals of the Security Council
  • What the Security Council achieves

Key tried hard but it was probably as effective as humming in a hurricane.

A five year hurricane of violence continues to devastate Syria and destabilise the world.

Key rarks up UN

John Key rarked up the Security Council over it’s failure to sort out Syria in a speech to the UN General Assembly today (Tuesday US time), but it is as likely to make a difference as everything else over the last sixty years.

It may be a noble gesture but is likely to be as futile as everything else.

Key will chair a meeting of the Security Council tomorrow (overnight NZ time).

Stuff: Key blasts UN Security Council over ‘vested interests’ preventing action on Syria

Prime Minister John Key has blasted the United Nations’ Security Council’s lack of leadership regarding the crisis in Syria.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday (New Zealand time), Key said he was “deeply troubled” at the Security Council’s failure to live up to its responsibilities “on the most serious crisis of our time, Syria”.

Key, who is chairing a high level debate on Syria at the UN overnight (New Zealand time) blamed “internal politics” within the council, and the sheer complexity of the Syria crisis, for obstructing a unified response.

He also condemned the vested interests that often got in the way of concerted action in preventing conflict spiralling out of control.

“There is no lack of mandate for conflict prevention. It’s in the (UN) Charter.

“There is no lack of information about escalating situations. We see the evidence of this – often in the most heartbreaking images in the media.

“The problem is that we don’t always have the will and we don’t use the tools available to us.

A major problem is that both the US and Russia are heavily involved in Syria, and both have the power to veto anything the Security Council decides, so the UN will remain helpless and hopeless.

When can you remember last hearing news like “The UN sorts crisis out in Xxxxx”?