UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is criticizing the UN Security Council for failing to take action to protect Syrians facing massive violence, which has led to thousands of deaths.

Ban told a General Assembly meeting Wednesday that the council’s paralysis is not only harming the Syrian people but damaging its reputation and weakening the concept of protecting civilians caught in conflict.

At a UN summit in 2005, world leaders agreed that governments have a collective responsibility to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

Ban demanded urgent action, saying: “We cannot stand by while populations fall victim to these grave crimes and violations.”

Syrian allies Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions that threatened sanctions against the Syrian government if it didn’t halt attacks.