John Key hopes for UN consensus on Syria conflict

  • 19/09/2016
Barack Obama and John Key in Laos in early September (Reuters)
Barack Obama and John Key in Laos in early September (Reuters)

Prime Minister John Key is hoping he can help get world leaders to agree this week on ending the Syrian conflict.

Mr Key will be in New York for United Nations leaders' week, and with New Zealand coming towards the end of its presidency of the Security Council he has invited council leaders to discuss Syria.

"It is the most devastating crisis of our time," he said in a video address before his trip.

"There's an urgent need to end the conflict and to address the humanitarian suffering that it has caused. This means having an honest discussion about what's happening and what needs to be done.

"There are no guarantees or quick fixes, but the Security Council cannot stand back."

Newshub's Patrick Gower, speaking to Paul Henry from outside Manhattan's UN building, said it will be one of New Zealand's biggest moments on the international stage.

"But now that the US and Russia have just broken down in a Cold War tit-for-tat, the chance of getting something meaningful done for the people of Syria looks slimmer by the minute," he said.

"John Key has gone from potentially being on the cusp of making a decision that could have actually made a real difference in Syria to being some kind of referee in some sort of Cold War boxing match."

He said there does not appear to be extra security after bomb attack on the weekend in the Chelsea area of New York's Manhattan, but when US President Barack Obama and other world leaders arrive, the area will be in lockdown.

The meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

Amnesty International has welcomed New Zealand's efforts to bring world leaders around the UN Security Council table and discuss ways to end the five-year old conflict in Syria.

"The bloodshed in Syria and the global refugee crisis are two of the worst human rights tragedies of our lifetime. We need the prime minister to meaningfully address them and forge practical solutions", says Carsten Bockemuehl, research and policy manager at Amnesty International New Zealand.

Since 2011, more than 300,000 people have been killed and nearly 11 million people, half Syria's population, have been displaced during the civil war.

The United States and Russia have been drawn into the conflict, which involves Bashar al-Assad's government, Syrian rebels and Islamic State.

Last week, Foreign Minister Murray McCully in his address to the UN was highly critical of Israel and Palestinians, and warned the council its 50-year goal of a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis is close to failure.

NZN / Newshub.