The World Has Spoken on Gaza: The US Again Stands Alone – Ted Snider 12/13/23


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres “had just invoked Art.99 of the UN Charter – for the 1st time in [his] tenure as Secretary-General.” Article 99 states that “The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” It was the first time it had been invoked since 1989.

The fifteen member Security Council responded by holding a meeting to vote on an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell “ask[ed] the EU members of the UN Security Council and like-minded partners to support” the resolution. Thirteen nations voted in favor of the resolution. The UK abstained. The US used its veto as a permanent member to block the resolution and ensure that it did not pass. The US stood alone.

One month earlier, the United Nations General Assembly gathered for the thirty-first time to vote on ending the US embargo on Cuba. For the thirty-first time, the resolution overwhelmingly passed. 187 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Ukraine abstained. Only Israel voted with the US against the resolution to end the embargo. The US, again, stood alone.

So isolated is the US that, in each case, with the exception of the UK abstaining on Gaza and Ukraine abstaining on Cuba, all of the US’ European and NATO partners broke from them.

Responding to the US vetoed Security Council vote on Gaza, Egypt and Mauritania invoked Resolution 377A. A rarely called upon resolution, 377A, or Uniting for Peace, was adopted in 1950 and was last invoked in 1997. Resolution 377A first reaffirms that, in the exercise of its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, it is the duty of the five permanent members of the Security Council “to seek unanimity and exercise restraint in the use of the veto.”

However, “If the Security Council, because of a lack of unanimity or the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security . . . the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures . . . to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Those recommendations are a crucial measure of the world, but they are nonbinding.

On December 12, the General Assembly held the Resolution 377A vote. 153 countries voted in favor of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, 23 abstained and only 8 joined the US and Israel with a no vote. Austria and Czechia were the only EU countries to vote no. France and Spain voted yes while the UK and Germany abstained. Once again, the US stood nearly alone.

A disturbing pattern emerges of a nation who claims to lead a liberal world that rests on a foundation of humanitarianism and international law voting in favour of embargoes and sieges and against ceasefires….

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