As the US seeks approval from Congress for military action on Syria, President Jacob Zuma says the role of the UN in Syria must be respected.
"The task of the UN will be respected as the only authority that can intervene militarily in any country," Zuma told delegates at the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Monday.
"My view is that you are meeting at the right time when there is a challenge to the global situation and I don't think we can remain silent when one country is being bombed to ashes before our eyes."
He said it was the role of parliaments and legislatures around the world to promote peace and security.
It was only through peace that there could be sustainable development and prosperity, said the president.
Zuma also called for peace in Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Peace and democracy must reign in every part of Africa and all over the world," he said.
Meanwhile, Syria has asked the United Nations to try to "prevent any aggression" against it, state news agency Sana said on Monday, as the United States weighs military action against Damascus.
'Peaceful political solution'
"The Syrian government calls on the UN secretary general to assume his responsibilities ... and to make efforts to prevent any aggression against Syria," the agency said, quoting a letter from Syria's UN representative Bashar al-Jaafari.
The letter also urged the United Nations to help seek a "peaceful political solution to the crisis" in Syria, where more than 110 000 people have been killed in violence since an uprising against the regime began in March 2011.
US President Barack Obama is seeking approval from Congress for military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds of people. – Sapa, AFP