UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has used a special authority called Article 99 from the UN Charter. He’s asking the UN Security Council to take action about the conflict in Gaza. This is unusual, and it happened because the Security Council hasn’t agreed on a resolution for a ceasefire between Israel, Hamas, and their allies. Article 99 allows the Secretary-General to tell the Security Council about any issue that, in his opinion, might threaten international peace and security.
Guterres believes that the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories could make existing threats to peace and security worse. He’s been calling for a humanitarian ceasefire since October 18 due to the severe suffering and damage in Israel and Palestinian territories.
Article 99 is a special power that lets the Secretary-General call a Security Council meeting on his own to talk about new threats to international peace and security. Also read CPJ Reports: 42 Journalists Killed in Gaza War Since Its Onset
In response to Guterres’s request, the United Arab Emirates has submitted a new resolution to the Security Council, urging for an urgent adoption of a humanitarian ceasefire. The situation in Gaza is seen as catastrophic and nearing a point of no return, and waiting is not an option.
If the Security Council decides to act based on Guterres’s advice and adopts a ceasefire resolution, it has additional powers to make sure the resolution is followed. This includes imposing sanctions or authorizing the deployment of an international force. However, the five permanent members of the council (China, Russia, the US, the UK, and France) can veto decisions.
Guterres is concerned about the Security Council’s lack of action and the worsening situation in Gaza. He warns that the public order in Gaza might collapse, leading to a humanitarian disaster. He emphasizes that the potential consequences for Palestinians and regional peace and security are severe, and such a situation must be avoided at all costs.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, criticized Guterres’s letter, calling it evidence of moral distortion and bias against Israel. Erdan sees the call for a ceasefire as supporting Hamas’s control in Gaza and repeats his call for Guterres to resign. The use of Article 99 by Guterres is significant, as this tool hasn’t been used since 1989, but its impact on the political decisions of the Security Council’s powerful members remains to be seen.