US must not block a resolution to demand an immediate ceasefire

Palestinians are seen amid wreckage of residential areas after Israeli attacks during third day of the humanitarian pause in Khan Yunis

Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images

Israel/OPT: US must not block a resolution to demand an immediate ceasefire

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7 December 2023

Israel/OPT: US must not block a resolution to demand an immediate ceasefire

The US, and other members of the Security Council, must support as a matter of urgency a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire by all parties in the occupied Gaza Strip and Israel, said Amnesty International, a day after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the Council to declare a ceasefire. Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard, who is due to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today, said:

“By invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter – an extraordinary move – the UN Secretary-General is sounding the alarm and conveying to the world, in the strongest terms, deep concern over the catastrophic and likely irreversible impact of Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Occupied Gaza Strip. Bloodshed and suffering have reached unparalleled intensity and scale in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and civilians continue to face indiscriminate attacks in Israel. The UN Secretary General’s urgent call to the UN Security Council (UNSC) is also a stark warning that the mass violations we are witnessing threatens all people in the region and ultimately global stability, and international peace.

“He is ringing an alarm bell that must be heeded. There must be an urgent and binding UN Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire. The Security Council must play the role for which it was established. The US and all other members of the UN Security Council must act now to stop the unimaginable suffering in Gaza and to ensure that the conflict does not further spiral out of control – setting ablaze the Middle East region and spreading far beyond.

“The US and all other members of the UN Security Council have a clear obligation under international law to prevent atrocities. There can be no justification for continuing to block meaningful action by the UN Security Council to stop massive civilian bloodshed, the complete collapse of the humanitarian system, and even worse horrors resulting from the breakdown of public order and massive displacement.

“Moral clarity, global leadership and the imperative duty to protect civilians must prevail with the immediate adoption of a ceasefire resolution. Every minute we wait, people are dying, the risks to global peace are multiplying. Selective application of international law must end. We simply don’t have the time for procrastination, or political posturing.”

Background

In a rare move, in a to the UN Security Council on 6 December, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter to call for a ceasefire warning of “a severe risk of a collapse of the humanitarian system” and a catastrophe with “potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region”.

Article 99 is a provision in the UN Charter that allows the Secretary-General to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.

The last time Article 99 of the UN Charter was explicitly invoked was in 1989 in relation to the conflict in Lebanon and the UN Security Council ordered a ceasefire.