It is called “Article 99”. It has not been used for decades. Until this week.
With the intensification of the Israeli attack and the mounting casualties among civilians, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres A Authority is rarely exercised This week to warn the Security Council of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza. He urged members to demand an immediate ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.
Guterres cited Article 99 of the UN Charter – last used more than half a century ago – which states that the Secretary-General may inform the Council of matters he believes threaten international peace and security.
Here, Edith M. Lederer, AP’s longtime chief correspondent for the United Nations, explains what this could mean.
What is Article 99 and why does Guterres cite it?
It is a provision of the United Nations Charter and the United Nations Constitution. It stipulates that the Secretary-General – the United Nations’ chief diplomat – may draw the attention of the Security Council to “any matter that, in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
This gives important additional authority to the Secretary-General, as the real power in the United Nations lies in the hands of the 193 member states, especially the 15 that serve on the Security Council.
Article 99 is rarely used. The last time it was invoked was during the fighting in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh and its separation from Pakistan.
Guterres relied on Article 99 because he believes that the situation in Gaza is at risk of “complete collapse” of the humanitarian and civil order in the Strip. It was something he felt needed to be done.
How likely is this to have an impact, given the US veto?
Arab and Islamic countries immediately followed Guterres’ message.
The United Arab Emirates, the Arab delegate to the Security Council, distributed a short resolution to Security Council members late on Wednesday calling for an immediate ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. They intend to put this resolution to a vote at a Security Council meeting on Friday morning.
The United States, which is Israel’s closest ally and has veto power over decisions, did not support the ceasefire. US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said on Tuesday that the Security Council’s role in the war between Israel and Gaza was not to obstruct important diplomatic efforts underway. He said that the Security Council’s resolution at this time “will not be useful.”
This may indicate a possible veto, but the United States has not declared either way.
In this case, why call it?
Because Guterres believes that the humanitarian system and operations in Gaza are collapsing.
He also warned in his letter that in the current situation, “amid constant bombardment by the IDF and without shelter or the necessities for survival, I expect that public order will soon completely collapse due to the desperate conditions, making limited humanitarian assistance impossible.” “.
Guterres said that the situation may get worse, pointing to the possibility of the spread of epidemics and the mass exodus of Palestinians to neighboring countries. He sees disaster looming on the horizon.
Previous secretaries-general have brought their perceived threats to international peace and security to the Security Council without reference to Article 99. This includes the Congo in 1960, the American hostage crisis in Iran that began in November 1979, the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, and the hostage crisis Americans in Iran in 1979. And more recently Myanmar in 2017.
We do not know why they did not cite Article 99, and many of the former secretaries-general are now dead. Guterres has been very outspoken regarding Hamas’ attacks on Israel and the extremely high death toll among Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
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