OTTAWA – Canada’s foreign affairs minister is at the United Nations to deliver a scathing rebuke — to the UN itself.
In prepared remarks, John Baird says the UN spends too much time looking at itself and needs instead to focus on the problems around the world that demand its attention.
Baird is speaking to the General Assembly on Canada’s behalf after Prime Minister Stephen Harper travelled to New York last week not to address the UN, but to accept a statesman-of-the-year award just down the road.
Baird says the crisis in Syria is a test of the world body’s ability to achieve results — one it has so far failed by neglecting to impose binding sanctions on the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.
Baird says Canada’s commitment to the UN has been tested and proven, but adds the country can’t get bogged down in “endless, fruitless, inward-looking” exercises.
He says if the UN focuses instead on its true goals, such as prosperity, security and human dignity, internal reform will take care of itself.
On Syria, Baird told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that he and Harper have been speaking with their Russian counterparts about getting the UN Security Council involved.
Russia has faced criticism for thwarting efforts to halt the violence in Syria by using its veto at the Security Council to quash resolutions against the Assad regime.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insists that it’s the West that’s standing in the way of concerted international action by failing to implement an earlier agreement on the conflict.
Canada has committed to provide $12 million to help Syrian civilians, many thousands of whom have flocked across Syria’s borders to live as refugees in neighbouring countries.
It’s estimated that as many as 700,000 could flee Syria by the end of this year.