Let me begin by congratulating you and the delegation of Argentina for your leadership of the Security Council this month.
marks the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the Baghdad headquarters
of the UN Assistant Mission in Iraq that claimed the lives of 22 people
including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the High Commissioner for Human
Instead of defending victims of armed conflict,
humanitarian personnel are themselves becoming the victims. In light of
the recent attacks on UN personnel in Darfur, the DRC, and South Sudan,
we must show zero tolerance to those who deliberately target UN and
continue to make up the vast majority of casualties in armed conflict.
Human suffering anywhere should be the concern of men and women
everywhere, but the responsibility rests with the international
Nobel laureate and humanitarian activist, Elie Wiesel
said (and I quote), “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of
their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that
moment - become the center of the universe.”
Today, men and
women are being persecuted in every corner of the world. The risk of
mass killing has risen sharply in Libya and Mali and the threat to
civilians remains critical in the Central African Republic, Somalia and
But nowhere is the situation bleaker than in the
Middle East - where nations gained their independence long ago, but many
people did not.
After years of stifling repression and brutal
oppression, the people of the Middle East said enough is enough.
Millions have poured into the streets from Benghazi to Beirut and from
Tehran to Tunis. They have raised their voices for liberty, for
democracy, and for opportunity.
far, the worst instance has been Bashar al-Assad’s murderous campaign
against the Syrian people. Day after day there are reports of detentions
and disappearances; of soldiers ordered to fire on civilians; and of
people being kidnapped, beaten and tortured. From Hama to Houla and from
Deraa to Damascus, innocent people are being slaughtered.
its June report, the UN’s commission of inquiry investigating the
hostilities in Syria said (and I quote), “Crimes that shock the
conscience have become a daily reality. Humanity has been the casualty
of this war.”
The atrocities in Syria have been made possible by
the backing Assad receives from Hezbollah. For months, Hezbollah
leader, Hassan Nasrallah denied Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian
conflict. Today, the whole world knows that his guerillas are openly
battling their fellow Arab Muslims in Syria and threatening to tip the
fragile sectarian balance.
Nasrallah has repeatedly vowed to
keep the murderous Assad regime in power. This past Friday he personally
committed himself to fighting in Syria if necessary, saying (and I
quote), “If the battle requires me to go ... I will go.” Nasrallah has
proven that he has no regard for the lives that have been lost, for the
people who have been forced to flee, or for the untold suffering of the
This same disregard for human life is clear in
Lebanon where Hezbollah’s arsenal has become larger than that of many
NATO countries. And Hezbollah sees fit to store these weapons in homes,
schools, and hospitals. It would seem that the people of Lebanon are
more valuable to Hezbollah as human shields than as human beings.
Hezbollah is a ruthless terrorist group committing double war crimes by
operating within civilian populations, directing attacks against
proclaiming his support for the Assad regime, Nasrallah travelled to
Iran to secure financial and military backing from Ayatollah Khamenei.
We must not forget that the first nonviolent protests were in the
streets of Tehran – and the Iranian government’s response was to
torture, detain and even kill peaceful protesters. These Iranian
protestors were human rights activists, former government officials,
clerics, students, professors, journalists, and bloggers.
those who thought that Rouhani’s election would be the dawn of a new
Iran – take note. After taking office, the new president wasted no time
expressing his support for Assad.
tradition implores us to raise our eyes to see the needs of all
humanity. As one of Judaism’s greatest contemporary scholars and
teachers, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, wrote, “We have always considered
ourselves an inseparable part of humanity…ever ready to accept…the
responsibility implicit in human existence.”
As a family of
nations, our responsibility to one another stems from our common
humanity. Our moral imperatives supersede whatever politics, religion or
geography may divide us. From the deserts of Africa to the jungles of
South America, we must stand together to ensure people everywhere have
freedom, opportunity and dignity.
Thank you, Madame President.