UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on a divided UN Security Council to unite and bring peace to Syria, as the West prepared for possible military strikes against Damascus.
"Syria is the biggest challenge of war and peace in the world today. The body entrusted with maintaining international peace and security cannot be missing in action," Ban said, referring to the Security Council.
"The Council must at last find the unity to act. It must use its authority for peace," said the UN chief in a speech at The Hague, where he was attending centenary celebrations at the Peace Palace, seat of the UN's International Court of Justice.
"The Syrian people deserve solutions, not silence."
Ban's comments came as the United States and its allies were building their case for military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime over alleged chemical weapons attacks, despite stern warnings from Russia.
The UN chief called for more time for UN weapons inspectors to investigate claims of a chemical attack last week, and made a strong call for a diplomatic solution.
"We must pursue all avenues to get the parties to the negotiating table," he said.
He also warned that any move to supply weapons to either side would only worsen the situation.
"To those providing weapons to either side, we must ask: what have those arms achieved but more bloodshed?
"The military logic has given us a country on the verge of total destruction, a region in chaos and a global threat. Why add more fuel to the fire?"