The UK has taken its opportunity as the current president of the UN Security Council to focus attention on the “Arab Spring” which saw unrest and regime change in several North African and Middle Eastern nations in the past few years. Chairing a debate at the council, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, called the Arab Spring “most significant event of the early 21st century”.
The meeting was called, in part, to discuss the situation in Syria as well as to support “political and economic freedom in the Middle East; while respecting the sovereignty of Arab nations” which will most likely involve engagement with Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, took a moment to express his regret at crumbling security in the MENA region:
“In Syria, what started as a peaceful, popular call for long-denied democratic rights has turned into a dangerous spiral of violence leading both Syria and the region into uncertainty.”
Despite strong talk of supporting democracy, the majority of major powers on the UN Security Council are still treading carefully around the governance issues facing Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar, where the ruling royal families still enjoy significant influence internationally.