News / Middle East

UN Chief Discourages Further Militarization of Syria Conflict

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about the Syria conflict during a news conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 3, 2013.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about the Syria conflict during a news conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 3, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging a political solution to the crisis in Syria, saying Tuesday that military force is legal only when it is in self-defense or is authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

The U.N. chief is headed to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, where Syria is certain to top the agenda.

Before departing, he told reporters he appreciates that U.S. President Barack Obama is consulting his Congress before launching any military strikes on Syria, following a suspected chemical weapons attack on August 21 near Damascus that killed hundreds of people. Ban added that he hopes any action is handled in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

Syria: Damascus Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical AttackSyria: Damascus Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical Attack
Syria: Damascus Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical Attack
Syria: Damascus Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical Attack
“The use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and/or when the Security Council approves such action. That is the firm principle of the United Nations,” said Ban.

U.S. military assets that could be used in an operation in Syria.U.S. military assets that could be used in an operation in Syria.
U.S. military assets that could be used in an operation in Syria.
U.S. military assets that could be used in an operation in Syria.
Ban said that if confirmed, any use of chemical weapons “by anyone, under any circumstances” would be an “outrageous war crime.”

While he said there should be no impunity, he also called for nations to consider the impact of any punitive measures and said further militarization of the Syria conflict should be avoided.

He said the turmoil in Syria and across the region “serves nobody” and he appealed for renewed efforts to convene a political conference in Geneva as soon as possible.

A U.N. team of scientific experts has just returned from Syria and Ban said the biomedical and environmental samples they have collected would be at laboratories by Wednesday for analysis.

The team, which spent two weeks in Syria, is mandated with determining whether chemical weapons were used in Syria, but not by whom. The focus of the investigation shifted from earlier allegations of chemical weapons use to the suspected gas attack at Ghouta near the capital August 21.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: John from: kiribati
September 04, 2013 8:14 PM
Make peace and take necessary peaceful means to protect the life of people.

by: Thomas
September 04, 2013 3:28 PM
The UN has not really lived up to its reputation and has become known for its inaction. Only when it realises that the USA, France and the UK were serious about taking military action has it become more prone to making "verbal noises" about having to have UN authorization. Why cant the Secretary General Ban Ki moon, endorse support for prosecution of the Syrian Government and their military at the Hague?

by: Haron from: Afghanistan
September 04, 2013 4:19 AM
still there is no war between Syria Government and US. but, we are watching by TVs' program that government of Afghanistan insist that election should be start in 2018 due to security. if international communities demand from Afghanistan government to prepare a free presidential election process. they (Afghanistan Government) may claim that International Communities doesn't believe on democracy. so, I say that at least Syria was and is a democratic government country more than Afghanistan. now all international troops leave Afghanistan and our government will never sign any agreements with US. any this kind of war to sweep democracy from a country doesn't bring equality in case of democracy in Afghanistan. both sides either US and Syria must stop war to impact on Afghanistan equality and peace process. otherwise President Hamid Karzai will find chance to defame USA by the name of democracy.
In Response

by: Cocoon from: US
September 04, 2013 6:05 PM
My friends,

One year ago, the American people were advised Benghazi was due to a video, from our Us State Dept and the Administration. We now know its untrue. We still don't know the whole truth.

Fast and Furious was a failed program which allowed 2 thousand guns to be sold illegally. Many went to Mexico and were used to kill lawful people and their families, including children. After many years of piecemeal information we had the President use Executive Privilege. We don't know the whole truth and we only know our Administration was aware of the guns being sold illegally.

Fast forward to Syria. Those who generally don't wish for military involvement wish to jump in. Those who do are hesitant. Does this square with anyone? The rush to judgement before the UN announces its own results?

I say show your evidence to the world, if you have it.

Like an adolescent, our current President continues to make decisions without fully understanding the ramifications/consequenses of those decisions.

by: gig24
September 03, 2013 11:24 PM
Fight fire with fire . Here : If Mr Putin can allow Mr Assad and MR Dogpoo (kingjong-un) to develop/transport/pelifarate and use WMD's, we should be able to allow Gen Idriss deploy WMD's as well. Whats needed to avert the next Worldwar, is more than a shot acrossed the bow.With a shot acrossed the bow,they all would laugh at us.And Evil 'd push forward on its global agenda.

by: gig24
September 03, 2013 11:18 PM
In SEP 2013 UN Chief Investigator Kirgy is due with the North Korean Report on Gulags and Concentration force-labor camps. I anticipate this: It will be a lot more horrifying than NAZI-Camps,Stalin Gulags and Bataan death march Camp Donalds all combined together. NK has the WMD provided to Putin resp.Assad's brother.NK will again use these WMD's to protect against a possible UN approved use of force against NK. Mr Putin and CO. knows all this and has helped actively to preposition and prepare the use in M.E. and NK.

It is coming our way (inclusive here : Florida,USA) ,it's becoming a lot worse then ever before. Especially,if we now say "American interests are not touched, we stay awayu of using any force,it's not our problem" Remember Bertold Brecht answered :"The war will come to us" (if they gave a war..and nobody came) .Be prepared to see Russia and/or China abuse their VETO power,and subsequently the break out of WW3 . Unavoidable,USA just sucked in again.We have to fight fire with fire,this in a timely manner.

by: gig24
September 03, 2013 10:33 PM
UN Chief BAN, old man,does not understand the mechanics in play here. A new Era of the cold war has begun. Russia and/or China are about to Abuse their VETO Power,which means the breakdown of Credibility/Trust to the UN ,they can pack it up again like WW2. Not only Graham and McCain,No all Governors and Governor candidates of the USA must nows come out and explain, how this adventure here will suck us into a hell of a deep trouble,unless we now do the right thing this SEP 2013. After Mr Putin has and is currently shipping an armada of equipment( war gear) inti Iran and through the Bosporus Canal. The knees of Arab Kings must be shaking substancially by now ! LEADERSHIP,HIGH I.Q.-strategical world leading edge tactical thinking is now required. We cannot sit this one out and stay home.
In Response

by: Voyager70 from: Australia
September 05, 2013 12:01 AM
To : Aaron Smith

You know Aaron... You are absolutely right in everything you say. You must be right for you are American and Americans are automatically. I am an young uneducated coward who just doesn't seem to have a grasp on the political basics of the world.

I live in Australia and far away from the disaster your country is about to start.

Good Luck :-)
In Response

by: Aaron Smith from: Fairfax, Virginia
September 04, 2013 3:05 PM
To Voyager:

Firstly, I don't know how old you are, but I suggest you hit some books because you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. The United Nations does not dictate any one nation's actions but rather facilitates cooperation among many. The United States, or any other nation, does not need UN approval to attack another nation. You are quite confused.

Secondly, what is the point of having a United Nations and establishing certain international laws if 3 of the 5 permanent members of the UN security council are unwilling to do anything about it?

China is not interested because China's economy has plateaued and they rely highly on middle eastern oil and know that instability in the area will result in higher prices for oil that China cannot afford.

Russia is not interested because they are allies with Syria and the Assad regime.

The UK is just simply afraid of an escalating war (which is something the Syria government understands and is manipulating to make the UK cower in a corner) considering it has the largest per capita federal debt on the planet (they are in more debt than the United States) and in recent years have started turning towards isolationism.

So, what does it say to the Syrian government and the Assad regime if 3 out of the 5 permanent UN security council members will not uphold international law? It just encourages them to use WMDs more as well as sends a message to other nations that the UN simply won't even reinforce its own laws. Russia, China and the UK have turned the UN into a laughing stock.

Who would have thought that France would be the one nation outside of the US with a backbone? I find it interesting that according to the latest polling shows that a majority of Australians believe that the United States has become a closer ally to Australia over the last 15 years. However, when I see a comment like this, I think, good riddance to Australia and if a WWIII breaks out, I hope Australia doesn't come running to the US for protection (though I know you don't speak for all Australians).

The point is, Syria is like a child and they are trying to see how much they can get away with and many other nations are watching because the type of action that is taken to punish the Syrian government for breaking natural law will send either a strong or weak message to other nations.

Honestly, there is no point in having a UN security council if its members will not uphold the very laws they put into place.

I should point out that some of the strongest dissenters in the US Congress were against doing anything until they saw the intelligence after which they did a 180. That should tell you something. Putin saw the evidence but did not care. Cameron saw the evidence and was a very large proponent of taking action however the UK's parliament voted it down.

A lack of action will only end up sending a message to the world that the UN doesn't care too much about its own international laws and will not reinforce them. Then what happens when Iran starts messing around with nuclear weapons?

I am sorry you are so confused about the issue and really have no idea who the players in this situation are and have no idea of the consequences of not taking action. You sit there and speak about International Law in your comment, however, you get it wrong, because no nation needs UN approval to attack another nation, it just helps a lot as far as assistance & the nation's credibility goes. You also don't seem to care that international law has ALREADY been broken by Syria when its government used chemical weapons against the rebels but as well, innocent civilians including children.

People like you are a reason there is so much danger in the world because you are too cowardly or selfish to do anything about it.
In Response

by: Voyager from: Australia
September 03, 2013 11:44 PM
The UN represents the International Community. Any act of military aggression done by the US to Syria without prior United Nations approval is unlawful and therefore those responsible for such an attack should be held accountable as war criminals. International law is not there to be re evaluated, manipulated or bastardised by the US, it is there to govern nations according to established norms - no exception !!!. The US has no mandate to attack Syria. As it stands, no amount of domestic political justification (a la - votes in the US congress) can substitute lawful authority in the world's eyes. It is ironic that the US should so shamefully become the very image of a rogue state.

by: Richard from: NC USA
September 03, 2013 6:23 PM
The UN is nothing but an ineffectual, corrupt forum for venting.
In Response

by: gig24
September 04, 2013 10:43 AM
Thanks Voyager. Hope you will remember me,the FL Governor Candidate.Especially when Your are strung up ,nightly ,on a nose piercing in one of the Communist run death/force labor camps. You wish You had followed the call to arms in time,not when it is too late. Regarding Mandate. UN has mandated USA and 22 other Nations to use force against Stalin's aggression,The geographical place happened to be Korea. The Continuation however is now the middle East where the Communist Tyrants opened their 2nd front.

The Brutality,the Gas and the Officers were from North Korea. Let's make sure all 485 US Commander in Chiefs (or wanna be chiefs) ,the Senators and Governors (and all currently listed Candidates) are aware of this. We are sucked in,we can give in (surrender/falter) or fight it out.I choose the fight.You Voyager from Australia choose to get enslaved and conscripted (not drafted)by evil.My survival chance is a lot higher than Yours. What we got here is the continuation of Vietnam war and the breach of Ceasefire in 1953 after US B29's had leveled down PyonYang.
In Response

by: Luke
September 04, 2013 7:00 AM
Respect is earned.
The UN has not earned the respect of anyone with its continual talking and no action.
"We condem this and that." And what are you gonna do about it, eh?
People disregarded the LoN cause it was useless.
In Response

by: gig24
September 03, 2013 11:35 PM
The UN will prove itself now in SEP/OCT/NOV , when Chief Investigator Kirby comes out with his horrifying report about North Korea.Use of force will be shown as justified,and China and/or Russia might abuse their VETO Power. The End for the UN , pretty much and sliding into WW3. 222Nations on this Globe,165 are members only USA might be able to fight evil and send their men and women into harms way for that noble cause.Else , we in USA 1/3 billion ,remain the only Nation that would withstand global brutalization and tyranny.Evil will not stop short in their attempt to threaten us.
In Response

by: Ryan from: Australia
September 03, 2013 7:17 PM
WWII began when people started disregarding the League of Nations. It's kind of important that people show at least some regard for the UN.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs