Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has accused the United Nations Security Council of paralysis and impotence, saying it is time for actions in the world's war zones.
Addressing the general assembly in New York this morning, Mr McCully made an impassioned plea for New Zealand to win a seat on the Security Council.
He highlighted problems in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, as well as Syria and Iraq, and said the latter was a challenge unlike any the UN had faced before.
"By any objective standard, this is a situation that cries out for Security Council attention, and that is true of both sides of the border," he said.
"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."
Mr McCully also said New Zealand should be elected to the Security Council because it championed the rights of small states and would be a credible, positive influence.
"As my prime minister said from this rostrum last year, there is no point in being on the council simply to make up the numbers," he said.
"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."
The UN membership will decide who will win a two-year term on the council in 18 days' time, with Spain and Turkey also vying for a position.