The UN Secretary-General rarely uses force to press for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

  • In a dramatic move, Guterres on Wednesday wrote to Security Council members urging them to collectively call for a full humanitarian ceasefire.
  • He said that two months of war had “caused horrific human suffering, material devastation and mass trauma throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
  • This move sparked sharp criticism from Israel.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the Global Climate Action Summit during COP28 on December 01, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Chris Jackson | Chris Jackson Collection | Getty Images

UN Secretary-General António Guterres invoked a rarely exercised clause in the UN Charter to press for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, warning the organization’s Security Council that urgent action was necessary to help Gaza avoid “Humanitarian catastrophe“.

In a dramatic move, Guterres on Wednesday books To the members of the Security Council and urge them to collectively call for a complete ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.

He said that two months of war had “caused horrific human suffering, material devastation and mass trauma throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”

“It is the responsibility of the international community to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis,” Guterres said. “I urge members of the Security Council to press to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.”

“This is urgent. The civilian population must be spared further harm. With a humanitarian ceasefire, means of survival can be restored, and humanitarian aid can be delivered in a safe and timely manner throughout the Gaza Strip.”

A photo taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 6, 2023, shows smoke rising during the Israeli bombing of Gaza amid ongoing battles between Israel and the armed Hamas movement.

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Jacques Guise | AFP | Getty Images

This is the first time that Guterres has cited Article 99 of the United Nations Charter, which states: States The Secretary-General of the United Nations may “draw the attention of the Security Council to any matter that he considers may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

This move renews personal tensions between Guterres and Israeli officials. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Wednesday He said The UN Secretary-General’s tenure was a “danger to world peace” and it was suggested that his efforts to invoke Article 99 constituted support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

A UN spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Thursday. She has previously denied allegations that she is biased regarding the war between Israel and Hamas.

Late last month, Israel’s representative to the United Nations called on Guterres to resign, saying he had “lost all morality and impartiality.”

This call came after the Secretary-General of the United Nations said that it was important to recognize the October 7 attacks launched by Hamas.It didn’t happen in a vacuumCiting the “56 years of stifling occupation” that the Palestinian people suffer from.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric described She described Article 99 as “the most powerful tool” at the UN Secretary-General’s disposal, saying that Guterres invoked the article “given the scale of the loss of human life in Gaza and Israel, in such a short period of time.”

Dujarric added that Guterres hopes this move will increase pressure on the 15 Council members and the international community as a whole to demand a ceasefire.

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The Security Council, which consists of five permanent members with veto power and ten non-permanent members, did not adopt a resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States each have veto power in the Council, which is considered the most powerful body in the United Nations.

The United States vetoed the resolution October 18 decision He called for a “humanitarian truce” in the fighting to deliver aid to Gaza.

In mid-November, the Council issued a resolution calling for an “urgent and extended humanitarian truce.”

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