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“We must avoid a loss of the UN's credibility” said Ban Ki Moon. Oh, too late.

BEIRUT |, with agencies - August 23, 2014, 19h51
One year after the chemical weapons attack in the suburb of Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, the secretary general of the United Nations, ban Ki-Moon emphasised on Thursday evening that the conflict in Syria remains a major threat to international peace and security. Also on Thursday eventing a debate took place in New York to discuss ways to make the Security Council more ‘efficient’ in the prevention of conflicts and in maintaining peace.
Some days ago, the UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon and the American president Barack Obama celebrated the end of the official destruction process of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons stockpile, implemented under the control of a joint mission between the UN and the OPCW. A quite misplaced complacency given that, on the one hand, the dossier on Syrian chemical weapons is far from being closed and that, on the other hand, the number of deaths in Syria (from conventional weapons or not) and the influx of civilian refugees in neighbouring countries does not cease to grow.

A change for Thursday night in New York, then, and an end to complacency: “Since the attack, the Syrian conflict has not only continued unabated but it has also spread to neighbouring countries, setting off a humanitarian crisis and fuelling new human rights violations and crimes against humanity”, the spokesperson of Ban Ki-moon affirmed in a declaration to the press. “The conflict equally contributes to conditions favorising the spread of terrorism. It remains a major threat to international peace and security,” he added.

Acknowledging failure

191,369 people have been killed in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2014, according to new figures reported Friday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, Navi Pillay.
This represents more than double the number established a year ago. “Unfortunately, it is undoubtedly an under-estimation of the real number of people killed throughout the first three years of this bloody conflict.” Ms Pillay stated. The experts have only retained the documented and identified deaths.

It is in this context of “acknowledging failure” that a debate took place on Thursday evening at the Security Council about the prevention of conflicts. Throughout these discussions Ban Ki Moon encouraged the council to open “a new era of collaboration, cooperation and action for the security council in order to avoid a loss of the UN's credibility.”

Now, we consider that the credibility of this organisation had already been broken down somewhat, but we acknowledge this as a step forward.

“The security council bears the principal responsibility for maintaining international peace and security,” reiterated Ban Ki Moon in front of member states of the council, recognising almost openly the inefficiency of the management of current conflicts. In the face of multiple conflicts around the world, in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, South Sudan, in the central African republic, in Ukraine and elsewhere the international community must “re-examine and refine its approach.”

The veto? A counter-productive tactic according to Pillay

According to Navi Pillay, “when the member states combine their efforts, they can do a lot.“ “But when there is a limited consensus, reducing ourselves to the lowest common denominator, the consequences can be measured by the terrible losses of human life, enormous suffering and by a significant loss of credibility for this council and our institution. “

Ms. Pillay has pointed the finger to the use of the veto. The veto has been widely used by Russia and China to protect their Syrian ally Bachar el Assad from every resolution judged too constraining for the regime. Their vetos were also aimed at resolutions with purely humanitarian aims. “A broader conception of national interest would be more appropriate to a century in which humanity faces a growing number of challenges.” Navi Pillay said on the subject of exercising this right. “The use of the veto to prevent measures destined to prevent or defuse a conflict is a short-term tactic, which ends up counter-productive.

But anyway, even though it was unanimously voted on last winter, the resolution demanding a permanent humanitarian access in Syria in all the civilian zones for relief agencies has not been satisfactorily implemented on the ground.

Following these debates on Thursday, the Security Council finally adopted their umpteenth solution, in which it declared itself “determined to follow the objective of preventing armed conflicts as this is an integral part of the principal responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.”

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