The hands of the United Nations are stained with blood because of its failure to stop the atrocities of the Assad regime in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron told the General Assembly yesterday.
In a clear challenge to Russia and China – which have blocked Security Council resolutions on Syria – Mr Cameron used his speech to call for the whole international community to support moves to bring about a transition of power in Damascus.
He cited a Save the Children report documenting the torture and murder of children by regime forces in Syria, telling world leaders gathered at the UN headquarters in New York: “The blood of these young children is a terrible stain on the reputation of this United Nations.
“And in particular, a stain on those who have failed to stand up to these atrocities and in some cases aided and abetted Assad’s reign of terror. If the United Nations Charter is to have any value in the 21st century, we must now join together to support a rapid political transition.”
The PM, who announced an additional $12m (£16.7m) of UK humanitarian aid for civilians caught up in the civil war in Syria, also laid some of the blame for atrocities in Syria at the door of Iran, which has backed president Bashar Assad.
Mr Cameron’s speech came a year after he welcomed the emergence of democratic movements across in the Arab Spring.
He urged the international community to keep faith in the process of change and said the UK was ready to work with recently-elected Islamist governments such as Egypt’s, but stressed they would be judged on issues such as their treatment of women and Christian minorities, adding: “Democracy and Islam can flourish alongside each other. So let us judge governments not by their religion – but by how they act and what they do.”
The PM’s 15-minute speech was heard in polite silence and received brief applause at the end.