Seize opportunity of Arab Spring, Cameron urges UN

 

David Cameron: "The United Nations needs to be united in action"

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The international community must seize the "massive opportunity" of the spread of democracy in the Arab Spring, David Cameron has told the UN.

In his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the UK PM urged the UN to be "united in action".

"To fail to act is to fail those who need our help," he told the Assembly in New York, saying the UN needed a "new way of working".

Mr Cameron has also had talks with President Barack Obama in the US.

In his address, the prime minister said nations must be prepared to act and not just sign resolutions. He said the UN had played a vital role in Libya but it was only effective when nation states were prepared to enforce its wishes.

Mr Cameron said: "My argument today is that Libya and the Arab Spring shows the UN needs a new way of working.

"Because the Arab Spring is a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy and vitally security, but only if we really seize it."

He went on: "The UN has to show that we can be not just united in condemnation, but united in action, acting in a way that lives up to the UN's founding principles and meets the needs of the people.

"You can sign every human rights declaration in the world, but if you stand by and watch people being slaughtered in their own country, when you could act, then what are those signatures really worth?".

'Responsibility'

The prime minister said the people of the Arab world had made their aspirations for greater freedom, more accountable governments and an end to corruption clear.

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While voting no would open Mr Cameron to criticism that the UK is behaving as America's poodle, abstaining might not exactly soothe Arab opinion either”

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"As people in North Africa and the Middle East stand up and give voice to their hopes for more open and democratic societies, we have an opportunity - and I would say a responsibility - to help them," he said.

He also said the UN had a responsibility "to stand up against regimes that persecute their people" and singled out Yemen and Syria as being in need of reform.

"Above all, on Syria, it is time for the Members of the Security Council to act.

"We must now adopt a credible resolution threatening tough sanctions. Of course we should always act with care when it comes to the internal affairs of a sovereign state. But we cannot allow this to be an excuse for indifference," he said.

Mr Cameron also told UN delegates that Palestinians had a right to a "viable state of their own" and that the international community should help them achieve this.

But Mr Cameron said that no resolution could provide the "political will" needed for lasting peace and called on both Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table for direct talks.

The BBC's Mark Urban said the Libyan intervention fitted well with Mr Cameron's campaign pledge to restore greater independence to Britain's foreign policy.

But he said many people at the UN listening to the speech would have regarded the UK action as "business as usual" by the West.

As he met Mr Obama at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York earlier, Mr Cameron said that Libya was moving to a "good conclusion" after the ousting of Col Gaddafi.

He added that the UK and US were working closely together on Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process, and said the transatlantic relationship was as "strong as it's ever been".

The US president called it an "extraordinarily special relationship", adding: "I am very fortunate that over the last year or two David and I have been able to, I think, establish an excellent friendship as well."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 57.

    Blimey! Democracy is the last thing Davo should be trying to sell!

    Loook at us! A society raped by greed, 'Democracy' & tolerance!

    Ignore him mateys! wait till something better comes along!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 56.

    Where's the democracy in the UK?
    These so called representatives represent no-one.
    They are just on an ego trip trying to go down in history.
    True democracy isn't about voting for someone to 'represent' you.
    It's about direct control over the means of production that shape our lives.
    What we produce & how we produce.
    Needs before profit.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 55.

    44.
    qwerty
    3 Minutes ago

    41, So to avoid being a hypocite we either have to intervene everywhere or not at all? Since the former is impossible that would mean the only position is complete isolation and indifference to any situation. I'd rather be a hypocrite thanks.

    Intervening in places we can (for self interest) is akin to a bully picking on those that he can but leaving those he can't.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 54.

    There should be a UN call for all UK Citizens to be granted democracy.

    This present LIBCON system was never voted in by the public.
    The UK electorate never got a vote on EU Rule or loss of UK Sovereignty.
    They never will because it was all actioned behind closed doors knowing they would be told No No NO like Thatcher if a referendum was held.

    Do not LIE for/of "democracy" when ours is not TRUE.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 51.

    "To fail to act is to fail those who need our help," he told the Assembly in New York....

    ...as he vetoes the Palestinian Statehood bid tomorrow morning.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 50.

    Seize democracy (except for Palestine, it should seize a long process that won't really go anywhere because of the vested interests of the Israelis).

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 49.

    Let's sieze democracy! Let's not have candidates financed and put forward by large party machines. Let us choose local candidates whom we know and are part of our communities. Democracy is more than voting every five years for the person who kisses the most babies and jokes with selected members of the public.
    Democracy is becoming an abused word.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 48.

    40.
    qwerty
    The UK (and the USA and Israel) support the principle of a Palestinian state. Their issue is the way the Palestinians are going about it
    ___

    The Israelis are far from innocent, they do seem to have a habit of provoking the Plaestinians and others by forcing people out of areas to build there, many settlements being declared illegal...

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 47.

    This speech may well come back to haunt the latest UK leader with aspirations of shining on the world stage. I doubt very much Mr Cameron actually knows what sort of leadership he has backed in Libya. They don't even know themselves.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 46.

    Well done Dave. got rid of Gadaffi, now you can move in and get someone in power there, that the west can influence and manipulate to secure western interests, namely oil, and make a few bob on the side for western companies, rebuilding what you have destroyed. Democracy cannot be imposed!! Libya's problems are only just starting so you may be jumping the gun a little Dave!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 45.

    I think it unfortunate that while Mr Cameron encourages the Arab people to strive for democracy, and supports that goal with UK involvement in the Libyan "struggle", he will more than likely (I would love to be wrong) either abstain or vote against/veto the Palestinian's attempt to gain UN recognition... perhaps both Mr C and President Obama should consider this a way to break this stalemate?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 44.

    41, So to avoid being a hypocite we either have to intervene everywhere or not at all? Since the former is impossible that would mean the only position is complete isolation and indifference to any situation. I'd rather be a hypocrite thanks.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 43.

    Can we have some of this freedom and democracy too?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 42.

    More hot air about democracy from Cameron he has let the relative success of regime change in Libya go to his head that we can now impose democracy where ever we want by force if necessary. Here's a tip Dave take a look around the irrelevant edifice that is the UN general assembly and see how many non democracy's there are. Your going to be busy and some are bigger and more powerful than Libya was

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 41.

    35.

    "He forgot to mention about what we let Saudi troops do in Bahrain"

    You people moan when we do intervene and moan when we don't. How did he 'let' them, the Saudis do not need nor ask our permission? The UK cannot stop all the world's atrocities, that doesn't mean we shouldn't act where we can. What would you have done, start a war with Saudi?

    Yes, if you don't you want to be a hypocrite.

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 40.

    "The UK should support the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state" 38

    The UK (and the USA and Israel) support the principle of a Palestinian state. Their issue is the way the Palestinians are going about it, and the wider issues of where the borders would lie. Are you really so naive as to believe this problem would go away if this UN motion was passed?

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 39.

    Can we have some democracy in the UK please - perhaps by holding the EU referendum each party has promised since way back?? The hypocracy of 'talking the talk' at Arab states whilst being unable to 'walk the walk' with your own electorate is quite breathtaking.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 38.

    The UK should support the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state, no matter the consequences for the 'special' relationship. All the time Israel feels it has support to act as pirates on the high seas and to do as it wants in it's Palestinian 'backyard' nothing will be achieved as nothing has been so far. Time to stand up and be counted! (And no, I'm not of Arabic descent!)

 

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