UNGA Must Unite for Peace to Stop Israel’s #GazaGenocide and Save International Law System
URGENT Policy Brief - 11 December 2023
The UN General Assembly will reconvene the 10th emergency session to vote on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza following a US veto at the UNSC, which was described by the medical organization MSF as a “veto against humanity.” Dozens of UN experts have described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as “apocalyptic,” reiterating their warning of a “genocide in the making.” The Commissioner General of UNRWA has sternly warned of Israel’s “forced displacement” of Palestinians to Egypt and of an imminent “collapse” of the humanitarian system.
The UNGA is called upon to shoulder a historic responsibility on two critical matters. First, to prevent the unfolding genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, which has seen a civilian proportion of deaths higher than “all world conflicts in the 20th century.” Second, to save the already contested legitimacy and credibility of the UN-led system of international law.
The continuous failure of the UNSC to take meaningful action, due to US opposition, and the UNGA vote of October 27th show that the US and Israel are isolated. The US and European diplomatic shield that prevents lawful sanctions from being imposed on Israel is further exposing Western hypocrisy and entrenching the global South/North divide. Even EU allies of the US and Israel have been compelled to take a contrary position that supports a ceasefire.
Israel’s US-enabled genocide in Gaza is a significant threat to international peace and security. Raising this specter, the UNSG has invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, after having described Gaza as a “crisis of humanity” and a “graveyard for children.” Four specific threats may have played the most important role in his decision:
- Israel, recognized by the international human rights concensus as an apartheid state, is carrying out, with total impunity, what international scholars, including Israeli experts of genocide, and a senior UN official have described as a “text book” case of genocide that is livestreamed. This is proving that the international institutions built since the establishment of the UN are failing at their most fundamental duty to prevent such mass murder and to defend global peace, security and human rights.
- Israel’s now overt plans to ethnically cleanse Gaza would create a new Palestinian refugee crisis in neighboring countries, with a devastating impact on the stability of the region and on global peace, not just on the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination. Israel continues with policy and actions of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which further escalates this threat.
- Israel’s carnage – armed, funded and otherwise enabled by the US and major Western powers – is pushing one of the world’s most strategically sensitive regions to a wider armed conflict with a devastating impact on world peace, security, and economy.
- An Israeli government minister’s threat to drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza remains unchecked, leading to a possible nuclear race in the region. The joint summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League, held on November 11th, warned against Israel’s “serious threat to global peace and security," and called for establishing a "zone free of nuclear weapons'' in the region as a necessity.
Calling for a humanitarian ceasefire is essential but is far from sufficient to address the situation given the expected continued support of the West for Israel’s genocide. Palestinian civil society calls for grassroots and civil society pressure on all states at the UNGA to take concrete steps for:
- A permanent and immediate UN-enforced ceasefire;
- A complete lifting of Israel’s siege on Gaza, allowing for humanitarian aid and reconstruction;
- A comprehensive military embargo, as the most urgent form of accountability;
- The prosecution of Israeli leaders involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity, challenging the double standard of the ICC;
- Suspending Israel’s UN membership, as called for by the UNSR on the right to housing, and as was done against apartheid South Africa.