Belgium calls for ‘veto’ on tyrants at UN General Assembly debate

Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium. UN Photo/Sarah Fretwell

26 September 2013 – Citing his own country’s experience as the first place in the world where chemical weapons were used in a conflict nearly 100 years ago, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo decried the recent use of such weapons in Syria, declaring that a veto should be imposed on tyrants.

“If there must be a veto, then that veto applies to tyrants and their crimes,” he told the United Nations General Assembly, referring to the veto right of the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and Unites States – used to prevent the 15-member body from taking action on resolutions.

“It’s in my country, at Ypres, in Belgium, during the First World War that chemical weapons were used for the first time in a conflict,” he said on the third day of the Assembly’s annual General Debate. “We still have imprinted on our memory the terrible suffering of thousands of soldiers.

“Nearly 100 years later it is this same suffering that today afflicts thousands of Syrians – and this despite the 1925 international protocol that bans all use of chemical weapons, From Ypres to Damascus, the history of the world is a joint history.”

He noted that when he addressed the Assembly last year 30,000 Syrians had been killed in the fighting between the forces of President of Bashar al-Assad and those seeking to oust him. Now 120,000 have been killed, he said.

“Within the United Nations, we have everything needed to act while those who are fighting often have only their courage to survive,” Mr. Di Rupo said, stressing that it was “our duty” to fight crimes and suffering everywhere in the world.

“In all humility I call on everyone to live up to their responsibilities within the Security Council to re-establish peace wherever murderous conflicts are raging,” he added.


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