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UN must face up to Syrian crisis: Key

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/09/2016

Prime Minister John Key has told the UN General Assembly that the Security Council must meet its responsibilities and face up to the Syrian crisis.

"We are deeply troubled to see the council, the pre-eminent body for international peace and security, fail to live up to its responsibilities on the biggest crisis of our time," Mr Key said when he delivered New Zealand's speech on Wednesday.

"The council has fallen short - Syria is exactly the type of crisis it was established to address."

Mr Key has used New Zealand's current presidency of the Security Council to call a leaders meeting on Syria.

"A meeting by itself won't stop the conflict," he said.

"But after more than five years of brutal fighting and horrific humanitarian suffering, we do not think it is credible for leaders to come to New York and not address the stark realities driving the conflict."

The meeting is scheduled to take place early on Thursday New Zealand time.

Mr Key also used his speech to outline what he called the Security Council's shortcomings.

He said it had achieved successes but risked undermining its own relevance and standing.

"For the vast majority of UN member states, which are dependent on a fair, rules-based international system, a weak council is not an option," he said.

"We acknowledge the council does not have a role in every crisis, but the reality is that we need the council to respond when no one else can."

Earlier Mr Key said the air strike on a UN aid convoy which killed at least 20 people made it even more important for the Security Council to discuss the war in Syria.

He knows the failed ceasefire, the tension between the US and Russia and the air strike have made it even more difficult to make progress but he's told reporters in New York the Security Council meeting is critical.

"All we can really do at the Security Council is put pressure on everybody to hold hands and see if there is more that we can do," he said.

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