Any international action on the Syrian crisis should be
mandated through the United Nations, Foreign Minister Murray
McCully has emphasised.
He comment comes after Prime Minister John Key said
intervention by the US without sanction from the UN Security
Council may be inevitable.
The "grisly pictures and reports of chemical weapons attacks
in recent days have prompted consideration of a range of
options in various parts of the world", Mr McCully said.
"The New Zealand Government remains committed to the Security
Council as the appropriate vehicle to address this crisis. It
has a clear legal basis for taking action and a clear
responsibility to show leadership."
Mr McCully said that was in spite of the fact it was clear
that international patience with that forum was wearing thin.
He urged it to "show leadership and to take action against
the reported use of chemical weapons."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was "engaged in the exchanges
that are taking place" involving the Security Council, which
New Zealand is currently seeking to join.
New Zealand had a very close interest in information
verifying the use of chemical weapons in Syria and in
evidence proving who was responsible but would not engage in
"speculation or commentary about the way forward," Mr McCully
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff called on
Russia, which has so far used its right of veto on the
Security Council to block UN action against the Syrian
regime, to rethink its position.
"In the face of strong evidence that the Assad regime has
used poison gas against its people no country on the UN
Security Council with the power of veto should exercise that
power to prevent effective action being taken."
Russia has a naval port in Syria and a substantial arms trade
with the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
"Putting vested interests ahead of the urgent need for action
against a regime which launches chemical weapons against its
own civilians is unacceptable and Russia should think
carefully about that", Mr Goff said.
"Stopping effective action would rightly draw condemnation
from countries across the world."
However he said while unilateral action involving missile
strikes against Syrian military bases might be an
understandable reaction, "it is a poor substitute for
effective multilateral action to isolate the Assad regime,
and implement steps to supervise its replacement and hold it
to account for crimes against humanity".
"Quick military fixes do not automatically result in lasting
political solutions, as recent experience in Iraq and Libya
- By Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald