Thursday, January 08, 2009

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 377 A, the "Uniting for Peace" resolution


The US has used its permanent position on the UN security council to veto every draft resolution that has criticised Israel. Every single one, pretty much. Including the ones condemning Israel for killing UN staff in its various wars (pdf). Likewise with all the ones that might threaten international condemnation of Israel's utter disregard for international law.

However, the resolution in the title allows the security council to be circumvented in the interests of peace if the security council cannot agree on a draft resolution. In specific the resolution declares that the General Assembly of the United Nations:

"Reaffirms the importance of the exercise by the Security Council of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and the duty of the permanent members to seek unanimity and to exercise restraint in the use of the veto," ...

"Recognises in particular that such failure does not deprive the General Assembly of its rights or relieve it of its responsibilities under the Charter in regard to the maintenance of international peace and security," ...

"Resolves that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security."

This endows the UNGA with the ability to call an "emergency special session" which can consider motions and draft resolutions that cannot be blocked by a veto of the five permanent members of the UNSC. This provides a mechanism to catalyse international action in cases such as the Gazan genocide, where the rule of law is clearly being broken, peace has been destroyed and global security is being threatened. I'm going to see who I can talk to about this.

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