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 177.

    One day we are hugging and kissing dictator Gaddafi (at least Blair did) in a desert tent, the next day we are bombing the living daylights out of the poor bugger(at least Dave did). Hypocrasy seems to be our trade mark....ah, I got it, its OIL innit????

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 176.

    So it's A-OK for other Arab nations to grab democracy through armed struggle but for Palestine that's bang out of order? Well that makes perfect sense...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 175.

    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, 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?
    The present Palestinian government were democratically elected so, what's the problem?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 174.

    "Seize democracy!"

    Yes, you're well on the way to do that, Dave, like Thatcher did (is she STILL not dead yet?!)

    Democracy is not something to be seized and controlled, it is a privilege and should be nurtured and respected, not raped as you are doing.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 173.

    Dear Dave. . .please do not forget natives of Diego Garcia whom we dumped somewhere in the Indian Ocean and gave their island State to our American friends as their Airforce base, still remember it??
    Crme against humanity and dictatorship, indeed !!.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 172.

    170.ScotUS1992
    2 Minutes ago
    ...
    What is he going to do? Ignore those across the world wanting freedom and change? Democracy may not be perfect but it's better than what they have in the Middle East.

    Or France...
    "Two French Muslim women who continue to wear the full-face veil in defiance of a new law banning it in France have been issued fines by a court."

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 171.

    In pursuit of democracy wouldnt it be more appropriate to remove the veto ability of the permanent members of the security council and have the decisions on Palistinian membership made by a straight vote?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 170.

    Everyone seems to be taking the typical British-cynical-approach-to-everything (as usual at the moment, which I find very boring) and are suggesting that "but Dave you should be concentrate on the problems in your own country!"

    What is he going to do? Ignore those across the world wanting freedom and change? Democracy may not be perfect but it's better than what they have in the Middle East.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 169.

    Of Course BIG DAVE could attack the tyrant in Zimbabwe....oooppppsss their is no oil there.......ho hum

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 168.

    Britain has done many wrongs in the past, Libya & other foreign policys including aid, do attempt to rectify them which is important because in this highly competative world demand of resources we need certain friends more than they need us.

    The main thing that always concerns is the difference between whats public knowledge & whats not & also the ignorant misunderstanding of UK public

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 167.

    The Moneychangers and the snakeoil shysters in the EUSSR may allow their pets, in the Party Political System in the UK, to give the people Democracy only, after the next major war ,which they have been
    engineering for the past few decades

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 166.

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

    They can start by recognising Palestine as a legitimate democratic state !

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 165.

    If Cameron has the strength of his convictions in what he's saying now, let him invade Israel and push them back to 1967 borders as defined by the 242 UN Resolution. The trouble with the UK and US is double-standard. One rule for ARABS etc and one for Israel.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 164.

    If the Rebels in Libya, and their alleged "Black genocide" - which Obamas own wife had to answer Africas questions on the other week, which she embarassingly just side-stepped - is bringing democracy to a country, Im guessing not a single African/black citizen in ANY country is doing anything but worrying with that being used as some sort of "example"

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 163.

    Come on, Cameron. You have impressed me with Libya and your stance on Arab States wanting democracy (at least for now) but please do NOT veto a Palestine state.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 162.

    Every time Cameron or one of his chums says or does something so crass as to leave one wondering just what depths they will sink to next - they stun me by going yet lower!!
    A bit of democracy here in the UK, please!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 161.

    Cameron is just simply asking for nations to support these new democracys politically, economically and financially, so as to avoid them slipping back into attrocous & even despotic regimes, which endanger all, the people of those nations & rest of the world who rely upon their resources to maintain our systems & existance.

    They are a new better deck of cards & need dealing with respectfully

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 160.

    Perhaps Mr Cameron should motivate his fellow world leaders by making it clear to them that by acting early in a conflict such as Libya, you get to sign the oil deals first before anyone does. That may provide a better incentive.

    And Mr Cameron interestingly seems to be a champion for human rights abroad, probably he thinks no one follows his domestic stand on it !!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 159.

    So Cameron is out of the UK pontificating to the rest of the world yet again. What a surprise. What arrogance.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 158.

    Dear David, we get it, democracy in the UK is this, the landed gentry and new rich have and always will own it, and the chattering middle classes think the control it and those terrible oinks at the bottom that that clean and keep running this miserable slave ship running, no not of it.

 

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