US Vetoes Humanitarian Pause for Gaza Crisis

The failure of the United Nations Security Council to reach a consensus on a resolution concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict is a sign that nations do not care about human lives

The UN is always missing the point - Photo by Matthew TenBruggencate / Unsplash

On October 16, 2023, the United Nations Security Council declined to support a Russian-proposed resolution that sought an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The resolution was met with four votes in favor and five against.

Two days later, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict. He argued that the actions of Hamas should not lead to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people and called for the immediate and unconditional release of captives by Hamas and unrestricted access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. To achieve these objectives, a humanitarian ceasefire was deemed necessary.

US Veto Power - An Evil Deed

Notably, on the same day, the United States exercised its veto power in the UN Security Council to block a resolution that aimed to establish "humanitarian pauses" to deliver life-saving aid to millions in Gaza. The United States was the sole member to vote against the resolution, while 12 members voted in favor, and both Russia and the United Kingdom abstained.

The failure of the United Nations Security Council to reach a consensus on a resolution concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the Russian-backed resolution did not explicitly address the role of Hamas, which was responsible for an attack that claimed the lives of 1,300 Israelis. As a result, the resolution received only four votes in favor and faced opposition from five members.

Secondly, the United States' veto of the UN Security Council resolution can be attributed to its belief that the draft resolution did not adequately emphasize Israel's right to self-defence. Historically, the United States has used its Security Council veto to protect Israel from critical resolutions.

The U.S. ambassador criticized the resolution for failing to acknowledge Israel's right to self-defence, especially in light of the attacks by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people in Israel. Additionally, the United States argued that it was premature to formulate a Security Council response to the crisis at that point.

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No Consensus on a humanitarian crisis?

The lack of consensus among Security Council members and the failure to address Hamas in the Russian-backed resolution were major contributors to the UN's inability to reach an agreement. This failure has raised concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Despite this setback at the Security Council, there may be alternative avenues for addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict, such as pursuing resolutions in the UN General Assembly, where vetoes do not apply. However, it's important to note that General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, unlike Security Council resolutions.

The United Nations' recent actions highlight the challenges of achieving consensus on critical resolutions amidst the Israel-Palestine conflict. The vetoed resolutions and the inability to specifically address Hamas underscore the complex dynamics and divergent perspectives within the Security Council.

As the situation continues to unfold, a collaborative and balanced approach will be crucial to navigating the crisis and advancing humanitarian efforts in the region.