UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, urging the UN Security Council to address the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Guterres expressed concern that the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories could escalate existing threats to international peace and security.
The Security Council, responsible for maintaining global peace, has yet to adopt a resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel, Hamas, and their allies. Guterres, advocating for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” since October 18, emphasized the severe human suffering and physical destruction in the region.
“Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the Council to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe & appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” he wrote on Wednesday.
In response to Guterres’s plea, the United Arab Emirates submitted a new draft resolution, calling for an urgent adoption of a humanitarian ceasefire.
Guterres, citing the council’s inaction and the worsening situation in Gaza, warned of a potential catastrophe with irreversible implications for Palestinians and regional peace and security. He emphasized the urgency of avoiding such an outcome.
However, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, criticized Guterres’s invocation of Article 99, accusing him of moral distortion and bias against Israel. Erdan argued that the call for a ceasefire amounted to supporting “Hamas’s reign of terror in Gaza” and reiterated his call for Guterres’s resignation.
Article 99 grants the secretary-general the authority to bring matters threatening international peace to the Security Council’s attention. It has not been used since 1989, adding to the weight of its invocation.
If the Security Council, comprised of 15 members, decides to adopt a ceasefire resolution, it can also use additional powers to make sure that the resolution is implemented. These include imposing sanctions or authorizing the deployment of an international force.
However, the council’s permanent members, the US, China, Russia, the UK, and France, have veto power. The US used that veto on the October 18 resolution to condemn Hamas’s attack on Israel while calling for a pause in the fighting to allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza. 12 of the council’s other members voted in favor, while the UK and Russia abstained.
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