By Matthew Barrett
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William Hague is in South Africa today, and in a speech at the University of the Western Cape, he said that countries – Syria – which massacre thousands of their own people are trampling "on every tenet of international law and every principle of human dignity", and should face international intervention:
"But Britain and South Africa do not always agree on everything in foreign policy, as our governments disagreed over aspects of the international intervention in Libya. Let me be absolutely clear where Britain stands on the changes in the Middle East today. We regard each country in the region as different. Some countries in the region are taking important and peaceful steps towards greater political and economic freedom; from Algeria to Morocco and Jordan. We respect and support their right to do so in their own way.
But we must stand up for fundamental human rights and speak our when these are abused, and when mass murder is threatened or being committed we cannot stand by. The idea of not intervening at all in the affairs of other countries should not be maintained when thousands of lives are being lost. And no country can invoke national sovereignty as a licence to trample on every tenet of international law and every principle of human dignity."
Hague's comments come as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, told the United Nations that the Security Council's failure to agree collective action after Russia and China's disgraceful veto of a peacekeeping resolution had "emboldened the Syrian government to plan an all out assault in an effort to crush resistance with overwhelming force." That emboldened spirit has meant an 11th day of bombardment for the city of Homs. In the neighbourhood of Baba Amr, two rockets are falling every minute, according to locals.
Pillay said that she hoped the Security Council would refer the Syrian regime to the International Criminal Court, because "the nature and scale of abuses committed by Syrian forces indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed." How many more days of bombardment should Syrian civilians have to face before Russia and China – the sole obstacles to UN action – are moved to support a peacekeeping mission?
William Hague's full speech can be read here.