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 77.

    @71. Aye. Scotland's attempts to 'seize democracy' don't seem to be very popular with Dave and co. West Lothian Question kicked into the long grass to the detriment of England. Noses must be kept in the trough with ermine coats hanging nearby. Democracy in the UK? LOL.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 76.

    Giving the people the right to vote for who they want to govan them, is one thing.
    Finding honest men and women to fill the post is something else.
    It only when they take up office that one can judge, and like Blair and Brown that can take years to put right.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 75.

    Seize democracy ie We cannot be seen to be trading with your current leadership. Please overthrow them so that we can sell you arms (which you can use to kill whomever you choose) and to allow us exploit your natural resources through the likes of Shell, BP etc.
    Britain and the US lecturing anyone on "freedom" and "democracy" is a sick joke.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 74.

    So let me get this right. David Cameron is the leader of a minority government, pursuing a radical neoliberal agenda he never declared at the election - and he wants to lecture the world on democracy. Mr Cameron, where did you get the mandate for your society wrecking agenda? Very little of what you are pursuing now was policy or an agenda mentioned pre-election.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    I don't doubt Cameron's morality, but he's enough of a pragmatist to know when to bang the moral drum (Libya) and when to drop his drumsticks (Palestine).

    Interestingly our next PM and their next President will both, no doubt, refer to their 'special relationship'. Are they already courting I wonder? Clandestine trysts, hands held out of parental sight... I'm filling up.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 72.

    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 (from the above article)
    ___

    Strange how many of the posts about Israel and Palestine are being removed as 'off topic' according to the BBC email i just got...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 71.

    Hows about a taste of demorcracy in Britain. No point preaching about foreign desposts and dictators, when we have the same running the country here. The coalition government could start world war 3, and still be in power here for another 3.1/2 years.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 70.

    Ok Arabs, seize opportunity of the Arab Spring!

    Unless, you're Palestinian, in which case forget it!

    Obama won't even give you a place at the UN let alone a State of your own, let alone democracy! And where you do get democracy, it wont be recognised? But in 1948 virtually the whole Israeli Cabinet were members of Irgun/Haganah the major terrorist organisations of the time!

    Hypocrisy!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    A certain Mr Blair made a not dissimilar speech in the early years of his PMship about spreading democracy and the along came 9/11 and Iraq if it all goes pear shaped in Libya and it's much to early to laud success then this speech may well come back to haunt him as it did Blair.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    What is Cameron urging to the UN?

    Is he urging already democratic countries to intervene to sort out non-democratic ones? Or is he urging non-democratic countries, more relevantly their leaders, to give up and become democratic.

    The first of these risks being empty rhetoric unless there is an iron will to see it through, the second is pointless.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 67.

    55, If you accpet my premise that complete isolation is neither practical nor ethical, then perhaps you'd like to highlight where we should intervene and where we shouldn't? I suspect had we not intervened in Libya you'd accuse the PM of allowing a massacre because we didn't want to upset Gadaffi over oil contraccts. I suspect you'd complain whatever we did.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    Highly ammused by all the negitive comments regarding our democracy, in so far as the very fact you are posting them proves it is alive and well. As for government, its job is fated never to be thanked, for every person made happy there is another jaded. I'm quite sure they DO listen, but we must always remember just because we say something contrary, doesn't mean we are right and they are wrong.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 65.

    Arab Spring? First let's start by knowing just what springs from where and by whom. What is an Arab's spring in the first place - is it another jumped up politician's phrase of the month that turned out to be phrase of the year? More likely it is a piece of metal that fell onto the floor of a garage in Cairo. Never heard of anything more silly.

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 62.

    Obama says:-"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."

    Oh dear,here we go again,please, not another Blair/Bush style friendship or we're all in trouble.

    Don't expect western style democracies to emerge from the so called Arab spring,you'll be sorely disappointed if you do.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 61.

    31. "murrayfield" ....

    I could not agree more with you on that one ... funny how we never mention the numerous UN resolutions that Israel has ignored, while under the US "blank cheque" umbrella of support ... oh wait except for the one that admitted them to the UN in the 1st place ... and why does Israel deserve to be a country but the Palestinian's are denied this? answers on a postcard Mr OB!

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 58.

    If only we could have democracy in the UK too! Then Cameron's words might have some meaning.

    Democracy means more than just a voting system - it means listening to the voice of the people. Listening and hearing what the people is saying. Not just the tokenism that Cameron seems to espouse.

    Shame on us for beliveing that we have achieved a genuine democracy. We are far away from it.

 

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