Nice Words Mean Little to the People in Syria

Sweden’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York said Wednesday night in Lund, Sweden that nice words, good intentions, and vetoed resolutions mean little to the people being bombed in Syria.

Olof Skoog, speaking at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in a lecture held in cooperation with the Association of Foreign Affairs (UPF), said the Security Council must be able to effectively engage and implement international cooperation in order to fulfill the UN’s original purpose.

“It is important to re-establish the relevance of the UN Security Council,” he said, referencing the violence in Syria, which members of the committee have repeatedly denounced in official statements.

Skoog argued that one obstacle is Russia’s use of the veto to block measures to intervene against the Syrian government. He said the veto power is not necessarily democratic considering that decisions need to be taken unanimously, while a majority vote for a certain outcome follow a more democratic line of politics.

Skoog referenced the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, which states the body’s aim, among other things to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,” and “establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.”

Skoog said personal relations help these countries rise above the bitter political divisions that exist between them. It provides a forum for countries to discuss disputes and focus on global issues. In this way, the UN Security Council offers a way forward to more proactively address these problems.

Skoog also took the opportunity to underscore the role of Sweden as a mediator in the Security Council and its particular focus on violence against children, humanitarian affairs, as well as the country’s agenda on women, peace, and security.

He also said he was concerned about the rise of nationalism, the refugee crisis, climate change, global terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He called for renewed international cooperation to address the global problems facing the world today.

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