UN head: World leaders ‘have blood on their hands’ over Syria conflict


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has opened the annual UN General Assembly with strong words for governments who have “facilitated” violence in Syria. US President Obama also criticized a rise in “crude populism.”

In his final address as the United Nation’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon opened the annual General Assembly on Tuesday by appealing for peace and criticizing the Syrian government for civilian deaths.

“Many groups have killed many innocents – but none more so than the government of Syria, which continues to barrel bomb neighborhoods and systematically torture thousands of detainees,” Ban said.

The UN leader also reprimanded world leaders and representatives gathered in the room for their role in the deadly conflict in Syria.

He noted that “powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands.”

“Present in this hall today are representatives of governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all sides of the Syria conflict against Syrian civilians,” Ban added in his final address.

The comments come on the heels of the UN and Red Cross’ decision to temporarily halt aid deliveries in Syria after a 31-truck aid convoy was hit by an airstrike on Monday.


US President Barack Obama also delivered his final address to the world body on Tuesday. He criticized “crude populism” which has expanded in the US and in Europe, saying those beliefs “fail to recognize our common humanity.”

Although Obama emphasized the positive strides made around the world in terms of safety and the near doubling of democratic governments, he lamented worldwide struggles with the refugee crisis, terrorism, and a deterioration of the situation in the Middle East.

“This is the paradox that defines the world today,” Obama said. “We must go forward, and not backward.”

He also called on all nations to follow through on refugee policies and aid. “We have to do more and open our hearts to refugees who are desperate for a home,” Obama urged.

The outgoing US president also used his speech to criticize call out Russia “for attempting to recover lost glory through force,” as well as calling for diplomatic solutions to the South China Sea dispute.

“In order to move forward though, we do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course correction,” Obama said.

Other world leaders are set to speak on Tuesday during the first day of the 71st annual General Assembly, including French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

rs/ (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)