Bahrain’s Foreign Minister issued an urgent appeal in the General Assembly today for the United Nations to find a common position to end the crisis in Syria, where over 18,000 people have been killed since an anti-government uprising erupted 18 months ago.
“Our organization must therefore shoulder its responsibilities for the protection of unarmed civilians and must not allow the procedures of the United Nations to impede its ability to prevent crimes against humanity,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed A1 Khalifa told the Assembly on the third day of its annual General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York.
“It must put aside the narrow geopolitical interests and proceed to the attainment of the supreme goal which is the responsibility to protect civilians in armed conflicts,” he added.
He highlighted Bahrain’s firm faith in the indispensable role of the UN in addressing international and regional problems, adding that the region is now in great need of that role given the speedy and regrettable developments in Syria.
“The international community, represented in the UN and its bodies entrusted with the maintenance of peace and security, is called upon to unify its position so as to put an end to the humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people and to find a political solution to the crisis that brings to an end violence and bloodshed,” he declared.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and the minister said UN action was needed to prevent serious repercussions from spilling far beyond the borders of Syria. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates.
Turning to domestic matters, the Foreign Minister noted the “serious challenges” to Bahrain’s security and stability, which he said the country had “addressed with full transparency, commitment and honesty.”
Since February, there have been clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the Gulf country.
“In this context, the Bahraini Independent Commission of Investigation was created to establish the truth and give each person his or her due,” the Foreign Minister said. “Consequently, a comprehensive dialogue took place among the various sectors of society and resulted in a series of constitutional and legislative reforms encompassing all aspects of life: political, social and legal.”
He added that Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa has proposed the creation of an Arab court of human rights “to lay down the foundations of a an enabling environment for human rights in the Arab world,” based on the model of the Inter-America Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.
“The Council of the Arab League endorsed this historical initiative and arrangements are currently underway to set forth the legal basis for the establishment of the court, which, it is hoped, will become a reality very soon,” the Foreign Minister said.
The Bahraini official is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.