UN Security Council At Last Adopts a Ceasefire Resolution in Gaza

Dr Riyad Mansour, Permanent Representative of the State of Palestine to the United Nations addresses journalists at the stakeout after the immediate humanitarian ceasefire was announced.
Dr Riyad Mansour, Permanent Representative of the State of Palestine to the United Nations addresses journalists at the stakeout after the immediate humanitarian ceasefire was announced.
  • by Naureen Hossain (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

On Monday, resolution 2728 (2024) was passed with fourteen votes in favor, with only the United States abstaining from voting. The draft was presented by Mozambique’s Ambassador Pero Afonso on behalf of the ten elected members of the Council, or the E10. He noted that all members of the Council were mandated under the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security and that their “actions impact the entire international community.”

“The E10 has always respected the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as a fundamental step,” he said. “For this reason, and in respect for the holy month of Ramadan, we have proposed the present resolution that demands an immediate ceasefire during this sacred period, leading to a permanent and sustainable ceasefire.”

As noted by the representative of Korea, this resolution is the first text adopted that has been introduced by elected Council members on a regional agenda item. Members of the Council expressed the hope that this resolution would only be the first step towards a lasting peace and a more permanent end to the war in Gaza, wherein efforts to send in humanitarian aid and rebuild the state could proceed without interruption.

“We delivered the strongest signal thus far: we demand an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, leading to a lasting, sustainable ceasefire,” said the representative from Slovenia. “It is a call we have all been desperate to hear from the council. A short and focused resolution is the firm sign from the council that this conflict must stop.”

“An immediate ceasefire is a priority step, but it is only the first step, given the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza,” said the representative of Switzerland.

The representative of Guyana noted that women and children have been disproportionately affected by the war, with pregnant and lactating women and children being the most vulnerable to the risk of famine and malnutrition. She added that the hostages’ families were “in anguish” as there seemed no clear prospect of their loved ones’ return. “After more than five months of utter terror and destruction, a ceasefire is the difference between life and death for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and others.”

The resolution also acknowledged the diplomatic efforts of Egypt, Qatar, and the United States to reach an agreement between the parties involved.

The United States’ decision to abstain from voting was a signal of the mounting pressure from the international community as the threat of famine looms over Gaza and the toll of devastation continues to rise. It also signals the Biden administration’s growing frustration with Israeli leaders’ lack of cooperation. US Ambassador Linda Thompson-Green stated that support for the objectives of the resolution was “not simply rhetorical.”

“We’re working around the clock on the ground through diplomacy because we know that it is only through diplomacy that we can push this agenda forward,” she said in her statement to the Security Council. They would support “some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution.”

Thompson-Green also added that the US delegation disagreed on some points, such as a lack of condemnation of Hamas for the October 7 attacks.

The United States has previously used their veto on three separate occasions to vote down ceasefire resolutions introduced since the beginning of the current conflict. The most recent instance was in February, when Algeria presented a draft resolution. It was following this session that the US delegation announced that they would put forward their own resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire and would allow for the safe return of all hostages, as well as a direct condemnation of Hamas. When the time came for the US resolution to be voted on earlier in March, it failed to pass when both China and Russia used their veto.

Speaking at the Security Council, Riyad Al Mansour, the permanent observer of the State of Palestine, remarked that the international response to Israel’s involvement since October 7 should be one that “enforces consequences for these crimes”.

"Accepting any justification for such crimes is renouncing our humanity and destroying the rule of international law beyond repair,” he said.

For Palestinians, the ceasefire resolution had to signal a turning point.

“This must lead to saving lives on the ground. This must signal the end of this assault of atrocities against our people. Save the lives of those who survived against all odds. Tell them help is on the way. End this injustice; end it now. All of this is long overdue."

Once the meeting had adjourned, Afonso, representing the E10 Group, told reporters that resolutions passed by the Security Council were binding and mandatory. “Every member state is under the obligation to implement those measures,” he said.

Mansour also reiterated this, adding: “If Israel is not going to implement it, then it is the duty of the Security Council to use Chapter 7 to take punitive measures in order to make them obey the measure of the Security Council.”

Beyond the Security Council, the response to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the resolution “must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini expressed his thanks to the Secretary-General for his support of UNRWA and the people of Palestine. On the matter of the Security Council resolution, he said on Twitter: “We now hope for its implementation so that people in Gaza region can finally get some respite and  the peace they all aspire to.”

Human Rights Watch’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau said in a statement: “Israel needs to immediately respond to the UN Security Council resolution adopted today by facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, ending its starvation of Gaza’s population, and halting unlawful attacks. Palestinian armed groups should immediately release all civilians held hostage. The US and other countries should use their leverage to end atrocities by suspending arms transfers to Israel.” 

Israel’s response to the resolution so far does not suggest that they will respect the Security Council’s decision. Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan expressed disappointment that while the Council has previously condemned terrorist attacks, including the most recent attacks that occurred in Moscow over the weekend, it had not condemned Hamas for October 7, the events of which he described as "the most wide-spread and barbaric massacre suffered by the Jewish people since the Holocaust."

He remarked that the resolution’s denouncement of the taking of hostages was “what should have been the driving moral force.”

He added that the Council should “not settle for words but take action” when it comes to ensuring the return of hostages. “It is unfathomable that when it comes to hostages, we still only see inaction. Yet when it comes to the situation in Gaza, the Council rushed to take action.”

It was also announced that Prime Minister Netanyahu canceled a planned trip to Washington, D.C., shortly after the Council resolution was adopted. This was in response to what was perceived as the US shifting its position, which would affect war efforts against Hamas and its efforts to rescue the hostages.

As binding international law, the Security Council’s decision should be respected, and it must not be held back from implementing its measures at any cost. The limited time of the remaining weeks of Ramadan should urge the Security Council and other enforcers of international law to implement a more lasting, if not permanent, ceasefire.

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service