"Colossal tragedy" in Syria evidence of international divide

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A boy stands outside a building damaged during fighting in Aleppo City, Syria. Photo: OCHA/Gemma Connell

The Syrian crisis is a "shameful symbol" of international division, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told ambassadors meeting in New York on Tuesday.

More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions have fled the country since the conflict began there in 2011.

Mr Ban was speaking at a General Assembly meeting marking 10 years since heads of state endorsed the duty of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Dianne Penn reports.

"R2P," as it is known, places primary responsibility on the relevant state, with assistance from the international community.  

Under R2P, leaders can no longer claim that national sovereignty outweighs all other concerns, according to the UN Secretary-General. 

However, Mr Ban said the international community has failed too many vulnerable populations since its adoption. 

Syria is currently the world's largest humanitarian crisis. 

All sides there are alleged to have committed grave violations of human rights and international law which Mr Ban said may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

"The conflict is a colossal tragedy for Syria and a shameful symbol of international divisions. History's judgement will be harsh. I deplore the abject failure to end the suffering of the Syrian people. That failure takes concrete expression in today's refugee crisis in Europe. We must do everything possible to find a political solution based on the Geneva Communiqué. I appeal again for Security Council action." 

Mr Ban made an urgent call on governments and the Security Council to take action on R2P. 

He pointed out that Council is the only body that can authorize military action to, in his words, "save lives when all else fails." 

Dianne Penn, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’14″

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