Foreign Minister Murray McCully today described the United Nations Security Council as "largely impotent" and directed criticism to China and Russia - just 17 days from the vote to decide whether New Zealand will win a seat on the council.
He was referring to the failure by the council to take decisive action in respect of Syria, a conflict which has now spilled over into Iraq in the form of the terrorist group ISIL seizing northern Iraq in a killing spree.
In addressing the United Nations general assembly, Mr McCully said the challenge in Syria and Iraq was unlike any the UN had faced before.
"The political circumstances in which it is being played out are about as bad as they get.
"We need the council members and the Governments concerned to move past the ideological stalemate that has kept the council largely impotent for the past three years."
That was an indirect reference to China and Russia which have used their vetoes as permanent members of the Security Council to block international sanctions against Syria in the initial stages of the conflict and moves this year to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court after evidence of a Government massacre of 11,000 detainees emerged.
Mr McCully said it was time for action now.
"We need to find a way to contain the madness that is ISIL, to address the humanitarian tragedy and to help the people of Syria and Iraq craft a better future."
He again criticized Russia but not by name in his reference to the Security Council's "paralysis" over Ukraine.
"The council has been essentially a bystander as one of the permanent members has undermined the integrity of another state."
Mr McCully has been lobbying in New York for one of two temporary seats on the Security Council in 2015 and 2016 to be voted on October 16 (US time). New Zealand's rivals are Spain and Turkey.
Mr McCully yesterday quoted from Prime Minister John Key's speech at the same assembly last year to promote New Zealand's bid: "There is no point being on the council to simply make up the numbers. Sometimes you have to speak up and shine a light on what is going on - or not going on - even when it is embarrassing or inconvenient to others to do so."