Silence on Syria will render UN powerless, says Obama
President Barack Obama has warned that failure to pass a resolution on Syria's chemical arsenal would expose the United Nations as powerless to enforce "basic" international laws.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Mr Obama said that denying the Assad regime's responsibility for the poison gas attack that claimed more than 1,000 lives on August 21 was an "insult to human reason".
And he raised the spectre of other world massacres in arguing that "sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye".
"While we need to be mindful that the world is full of unintended consequences, should we really accept the notion that the world is powerless in the face of a Rwanda or a Srebrenica?" he asked. "If that's the world that people want to live in, they should say so and reckon with the cold logic of mass graves."
The Security Council is deadlocked over a resolution that would compel Syria to keep the agreement to surrender its chemical weapons.
America and Russia differ over whether any draft should allow force – or other punishment – if Syria breaks the deal.
The US, Britain and France want a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows the Security Council to enforce its will.
However, this would not necessarily authorise military action: a resolution passed under Article 41 would allow economic or other measures. Mr Obama warned that the United Nations would be exposed as powerless if the impasse persisted.
"There must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)