News / USA

Ban Ki-moon: Syria Action Needs UN Authorization

U.S. President Barack Obama (5th R) speaks at a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House while discussing a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama (5th R) speaks at a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House while discussing a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013.
VOA News
The United Nations secretary-general says any confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria would be an “outrageous war crime,” and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

Ban Ki-moon urged the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to “unite and develop an appropriate response” if U.N. investigators confirm that chemical weapons were used.

“This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria. This is about our collective responsibility to humankind,” he said.

However, Ban said, any use of force to punish those responsible for a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 Syrians last month must have U.N. authorization to be legal.

Congressional leaders offer backing

Ban spoke as President Barack Obama and his top foreign-policy and defense officials were working to build domestic support for a U.S. military strike on the Syrian government.  The U.S. says Syrian President Bashar al Assad was behind the nerve-gas attack on August 21.

After a White House meeting Tuesday, top U.S. lawmakers from both parties said they will support a U.S. strike.

John Boehner, leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, says the United States has the capability to stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Boehner, who frequently clashes with Obama, mostly on domestic issues, urged colleagues to do the same.

"We have enemies around the world that need to understand we are not going to tolerate this type of behavior," he said.

Nancy Pelosi, who leads Obama's Democratic Party in the House, said Syria's use of chemical weapons was outside of the "circle of civilized behavior." She said the United States must respond.

The Syrian government has denied that its military has used chemical weapons.

Obama said he is asking Congress to approve a "proportional, limited" military response that would send a "clear message" to Assad's regime and any other country interested in "testing international norms."

Sending 'a clear message' to Syria

"We recognize that there are certain weapons that when used can not only end up resulting in grotesque deaths but also can end up being transmitted to non-state actors, can pose a risk to allies and friends of ours, like Israel, like Jordan, like Turkey," he said as he headed into the meeting with congressional leaders.

Obama said the U.S. had a "broader strategy" that involves upgrading the capabilities of the Syrian opposition.

A day of intense outreach to the Congress included a appearances by Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

Even with Boehner’s backing, polls show many Americans remain skeptical about the need for a U.S. role in Syria. And there is no guarantee that Boehner will convince enough of his fellow Republicans in Congress to approve U.S. action.

In addition to building support at home for action against Syria, the president will discuss this week in Europe. He is flying to Sweden overnight for a one-day visit, then will attend the G20 summit Thursday and Friday in St. Petersburg.
 
Russia's role pivotal

British Prime Minister David Cameron also is expected to urge Syria’s top ally, Russia, to work with Western allies toward a political solution to Syria’s civil war.  Russia has blocked previous U.N. efforts to impose sanctions on Assad’s government.
 
Last week, Parliament rejected Cameron’s proposal for British participation in a military response to the suspected chemical weapons attack on August 21.   

French President Francois Hollande Tuesday called on Europe to forge a united response to Syria. However, he said France would wait for the U.S. Congress to vote on Obama’s plan for a strike before taking any military action.

The flow of refugees out of Syria has risen dramatically in recent months. The United Nations refugee agency says more than 2 million people have fled the country - up from 231,000 a year ago.

'A disgraceful humanitarian calamity'  
 
UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said Syria has become "a disgraceful humanitarian calamity, with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history."  He added that "the only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees."

The U.N. says many of the refugees flee with little more than the clothes on their back, and that half of them are children. It has made appeals for international aid, but said Tuesday it has received only 47 percent of the money required to meet the basic needs of the refugees.

With 4.25 million more people displaced within Syria, the conflict has forced more than a quarter of the country's population to leave their homes.

The crisis that began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Assad's rule has left more than 100,000 people dead.

Assad denies his military was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, and he has challenged the United States and France to prove their allegations.  In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, he warned that a military strike by those countries could start a regional war.

Russia, a long-time Syrian ally, has also questioned the credibility of U.S. evidence that the Assad government used chemical weapons on civilians.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ishola, M from: Lagos
September 03, 2013 10:21 PM
The issues involved is beyond a military strike on Syria at this point in time. There are fundamental issues that must be pondered and this by the world at large as we are all stakeholders in the unforeseen consequences of the proposed strike. Let reason prevail and let us allow the UN do its job and as Ban Ki Moon has stated, any aggression will be illegal without due security council authourisation

by: JUDITH KAY from: BUREAU COUNTY ILLINOIS
September 03, 2013 4:09 PM
WAIT UNTIL ASSAD IS BACK FROM IRAN HIT THE PALACE ONLY AND THEN WAIT TWO DAYS BEFORE LAUNCHING THE OTHER STUFF...

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
September 03, 2013 1:37 PM
Boehner's attitude bent to Saudi demands. America owes the Persian oil states too much money to dare deny their demand that the United States attack Syria, he was told. The alternative is bankruptcy.
Boehner, like Obama, pursed his lips to the please the Wahhabi Sunni bum, and agreed to do their bidding. Shame.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs