UN Security Council statement, Settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and countering terrorist threat in the region

  • Murray McCully
Foreign Affairs

Mr President,

New Zealand welcomes the Security Council debate on the resolution of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

And we welcome the fact that it involves foreign ministers from so many members of this Council.

But we do not welcome the fact that today we will pass no resolution, not even agree a Presidential statement; we will not stop the fighting.

Sadly this is symbolic of the dysfunction and mistrust that has characterized this Council's performance on Syria and too many of the conflicts that rage in the region.

And it must stop.

In Syria, 250,000 dead people and 12 million displaced by conflict should tell this Council it must stop; that we must work together to find a resolution.

We can all see what the path forward must involve. 

On one hand we must be pragmatic, we must take the situation as it is and the actors who are there, and collectively impose a transition process- one that will enable institutions and services to operate as we allow Syria to rebuild.

On the other, we must uphold the principles of justice and international law that would rule out impunity for those responsible for mass atrocities.

In his introductory remarks to this year's General Debate, the Secretary-General named five countries whose deep differences need to find resolution if the conflict in Syria is to cease.

Each of these five countries, along with most others, has declared its implacable opposition to the brutal terrorist threat that is ISIL.

To that extent, the concept behind today's debate can claim success. 

Where it fails is in its inability to unite these key actors and members of this Council behind a process that marries the pragmatism that must be employed to stop the conflict, with the more principled solutions that will enable Syria to start rebuilding, displaced people to return, and the other conflicts in the region, involving largely the same actors, to be addressed- in Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine.   

Until members of this Council learn to cooperate to broker these compromises, we will live in a world which is eternally destabilized by the rivalries of the Middle East and North Africa; a world of constant workarounds as substitutes for Council leadership, and a growing and ultimately deafening demand for Security Council reform.