GENEVA The U.N.'s top human rights official urged nations Thursday to save Syria's embattled and dying children and to rally behind a 14-year-old girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting female education.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says many Syrian children "will be scarred for life" at the hands of their government, army or neighbors in a conflict activists say has killed more than 33,000 people since March 2011.
She called on the world to prevent another slaughter like that of 8,000 Muslim men in July 1995 by Serb forces who overran the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, in what became Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
"It should not take something as drastic as Srebrenica to shake the world into taking serious action to stop this type of conflict," Pillay said in criticizing the lack of action by the international community because the U.N. Security Council is blocked by Syrian allies and permanent members Russia and China.
At a news conference in Geneva summing up her first four-year term, Pillay condemned the Taliban's shooting of Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan last week, and singled out Libya as "extremely fragile after so many years of disastrous misrule" during Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
She said much more work remains to be done to protect the rights of people in Arab Spring nations such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.
Pillay said North Korea also remains a top concern because of its "political prison camps, frequent public executions and severe food shortages."
At the start of her second term last month, Pillay had used a major address to the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council to call attention to acts of reprisals against human rights activists who cooperate with the world body and to 16 nations accused of cracking down on critics without impunity.
On Thursday, Pillay said several nations including Bahrain continued to retaliate against human rights activists.
"This is completely unacceptable behavior anywhere, let alone in the halls of the U.N.," she said.