Key prepares for his big UN address

Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)
Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)

New Zealand has used its seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council to condemn Russia's bombing campaign in Syria.

But Foreign Minister Murray McCully has also criticised the Council for its inability to act on the crisis.

"Sadly this is symbolic of the dysfunction and mistrust that has characterised this Council's performance on Syria," says Mr McCully.

In theory New Zealand is all for a resolution put forward by current Council President, Russia.

It would co-ordinate international efforts against Islamic State in Syria.

But despite talk of unity, US-led forces aren't sharing their attack plan with Russia, and Russia has started bombing unilaterally.

"I think it would be much more helpful if they would talk about what they're doing and try to coordinate with other countries," says Prime Minister John Key.

It could mean the two sides inadvertently clash.

"Well that's the risk and there's a risk that they could target areas that have a lot of civilians and that could see an enormous amount of civilian casualties," says Mr Key.

As a member of the Security Council New Zealand could put forward a resolution demanding Russia's attacks are investigated – but we won't bother because Russia would simply use its veto.

"We'd be reluctant to do it if we thought it would be bowled over," says Mr Key.

The problems in Syria are ringing throughout the UN, even featuring in a meeting between Mr Key and the UN's third-ranked chief – his old foe Helen Clark.

Tomorrow Mr Key has his big moment – the address to the general assembly.

He'll pick up where Mr McCully left off, condemning the Security Council's inability to act on Syria.

But considering New Zealand fought for years for a seat on the Council, Mr Key won't want to appear too ungrateful. He'll be talking up its successes as well as its failures.

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