The European Union, winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, said at the award ceremony Monday that the conflict in Syria was "a stain" on the world's conscience.
"Let me say it from here today," said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. "The current situation in Syria is a stain on the world's conscience and the international community has a moral duty to address it."
Barroso said that on international human rights day, the thoughts of the 27-nation bloc were with those "all over the world who put their lives at risk to defend the values that we cherish."
At talks in Brussels on Monday, EU foreign ministers were discussing the situation in Syria, where heavy fighting was continuing in a 21-month conflict against the regime President Bashar al-Assad.
More than 42,000 people have been killed in the violence, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.