UN resolution 377 will get nowhere if UNSC permanent members remain indifferent

UN resolution 377 will get nowhere if UNSC permanent members remain indifferent

By Rosmalis Anuar

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 (NNN-Bernama) — All eyes are on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as it is expected to vote for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip following a formal request from Egypt and Mauritania, invoking the UN’s Resolution 377A (V).

This move came after the UN Security Council (UNSC) failed to pass a draft resolution urging a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza last Friday, with the United States (US) exercising its veto power.

Resolution 377, also known as ‘Uniting for Peace’, empowers the UNGA to act when the UNSC fails to maintain international security and peace due to a lack of unanimity among its five permanent members (P5) – China, France, the United Kingdom, the US, and Russia.

While there is optimism that the UNGA special session will yield desirable results to halt the Israeli aggression in Gaza, analysts argue that most UNGA resolutions would still require cooperation from all member states including the UNSC’s P5 that are often seen as the stumbling block.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, Principal Adviser at the Pacific Research Centre of Malaysia, pointed out that without cooperation and enforcement from the P5, most UNGA resolutions end up as mere recommendations.

The Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs noted that the applicability of UN’s Resolution 377A to override a UNSC permanent member’s veto is a contentious issue, with no successful precedent so far.

“It is likely to lead to nothing just like many previous invocations. The cold, harsh fact is that P5, despite their ideological differences, have a collective vested interest in not having (Resolution) 377A to be truly effective as that would dilute their veto powers,” he said.

On the other hand, Dr Ahmad Badri Abdullah, Deputy CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, mentioned that Resolution 377A lacks the direct authority to override a US veto as it is legally non-binding.

However, he noted that the “Uniting for Peace” resolution reflects the collective conscience of the global community and exerts moral and political pressure on the parties involved in the Gaza conflict.

Beyond symbolism, the resolution offers an opportunity to rally global public opinion and promote peaceful resolutions and collaborative measures such as peacekeeping operations or humanitarian interventions, which are urgently needed in Gaza.

Dr Ahmad Badri also pointed out that the possibility of pressuring the UN to utilize Resolution 377A may depend on the level of urgency, solidarity, and coordination among the actors supporting the UN ceasefire resolution.

Both analysts agreed that Western powers could influence Israel to cease its attacks on Gaza, but there is no willingness among them to do so.

“When willingness of the Western powers to enforce such a resolution is absent, it would remain just a recommendation,” said Dr Oh.

Dr Ahmad Badri emphasized that Israel, as the aggressor in this humanitarian crisis, heavily depends on the US and other Western allies for various forms of support that were contingent on the political will and strategic vision of Western powers.

“So far, the Western powers have demonstrated a lack of resolve and consistency in using their leverage to restrain Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force against the besieged population of Gaza,” he said.

Dr Ahmad Badri stressed that the failure to restrain Israel not only exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in Gaza but also undermines the credibility and legitimacy of Western powers on the global stage, potentially leading to the emergence of alternative power blocs, as seen in the growing influence of the Global South.

According to media reports, at least 18,205 Palestinians have been killed and over 49,645 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on Gaza since October 7.


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