UN secretary-general invokes rare use of Article 99 over Gaza

Guterres warns of further escalation in Gaza; UAE responds with draft resolution

Antonio Guterres
(Photo: Twitter/X)
NEW YORK — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued a warning on Wednesday about the "imminent complete collapse of public order" in the Gaza Strip, which has faced Israeli aggression since October 7. اضافة اعلان

In an unprecedented message to the Security Council, Guterres emphasized the urgent need for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared. Referring, for the first time since assuming the Secretariat in 2017, to Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations, which allows him to "draw the attention" of the Council to a file that "could endanger the maintenance of international peace and security," Guterres expressed deep concern.

He stated, "With the continuing Israeli bombing and the absence of shelters or a minimum level of survival, I anticipate an imminent complete collapse of public order due to desperate conditions, making humanitarian assistance impossible, even if limited."

Guterres highlighted the potential worsening of the situation with the spread of epidemics and increased pressure for mass movements toward neighboring countries. While acknowledging that humanitarian aid passing through the Rafah crossing is insufficient, he noted, "We are simply unable to reach those who need aid inside Gaza."

"The capacities of the UN and its humanitarian partners have been undermined by supply shortages, fuel shortages, communications blackouts, and growing insecurity," Guterres added.

Warning of a looming humanitarian catastrophe, Guterres stressed the responsibility of the international community to use its influence to prevent further escalation and bring an end to the crisis. He called on Security Council members to exert pressure to avert such a catastrophe.

In response on Thursday, the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) reported that Occupation Foreign Minister Eli Cohen accused Guterres of supporting killings and kidnappings, claiming that Guterres' term poses a threat to world peace. The occupation's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, described Guterres' behavior as a "new moral decadence."

Article 99: What does it mean?
This marks the first time that Guterres has activated Article 99 of the Charter since becoming Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2017. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric explained that the Secretary-General is using the authority granted by the Charter in a significant constitutional step.

Article 99, considered the most powerful tool at the Secretary-General's disposal, has not been activated for decades. Dujarric clarified that previous speeches highlighted threats to international peace and security without invoking this article.

Dujarric emphasized the nearing complete paralysis of UN humanitarian operations in Gaza, where approximately 15,000 people and 130 UN workers have been affected. He expressed hope that the Security Council would heed Guterres' call, emphasizing the grave danger of a collapse in the humanitarian system with potentially irreversible effects on Palestinians and regional peace and security.

The UN Charter, signed on June 26, 1945, in San Francisco, became effective on October 24 of the same year. Article 99 is a crucial component of the Charter, allowing the Secretary-General to draw attention to situations threatening international peace and security.

UAE responds
In response to this alarming situation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) called for the urgent adoption of a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza for humanitarian reasons. On Wednesday, the UAE submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council, emphasizing the catastrophic situation in the Gaza Strip that may reach an irreversible point. The UAE Mission to the UN stressed the need for decisive action by the Council to demand a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.

Support of the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
The UAE mission highlighted that their draft resolution has the support of the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, considering it a moral and humanitarian necessity. They urged all countries to support the Secretary-General's call.

US and Israel oppose
However, the United States and Israel oppose the ceasefire, arguing that it would benefit Hamas. Instead, the U.S. supports a truce declaration to protect civilians and facilitate the release of hostages taken by Hamas in the October 7 attack on Israel.

Arab ministers are scheduled to visit Washington
The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, stated that Arab ministers are scheduled to visit Washington to discuss the draft Security Council resolution with American officials. He emphasized the urgent need for a ceasefire, stating that it must happen immediately.

The US abstained from voting last month to allow the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for pauses in the fighting. The seven-day truce that followed ended on December 1, during which Hamas released some hostages and increased humanitarian aid to Gaza.

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