“Unite for Peace” in Lebanon?

Israel, the U.S., and the yet-again submissive Britain are now totally isolated in their collusive attack on Lebanon.  As the emergency meeting on Lebanon in Rome collapsed Wednesday, a U.S. official described Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being "under siege" for her position that a ceasefire must include a permanent disarming of Hezbollah militants.[1]  


As Israel rains U.S. bombs on civilians, ambulances, and even the United Nations monitoring force, the worldâ€â„¢s states and world public opinion appear impotent to affect this situation.  The obvious venue for action â€" the UN Security Council â€" is stymied by the U.S. veto. 


There is a possible way forward.  Under a procedure called "Uniting for Peace," the UN General Assembly can demand an immediate unconditional ceasefire and withdrawal.


When Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt and began advancing on the Suez Canal. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower demanded that the invasion stop. Resolutions in the UN Security Council called for a cease-fire–but Britain and France vetoed them. Then the United States appealed to the General Assembly and proposed a resolution calling for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of forces. The General Assembly held an emergency session and passed the resolution. Britain and France withdrew from Egypt within a week.


The appeal to the General Assembly was made under a procedure called "Uniting for Peace." This procedure was adopted by the Security Council so that the UN can act even if the Security Council is stalemated by vetoes. Resolution 377 provides that, if there is a "threat to peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and the permanent members of the Security Council do not agree on action, the General Assembly can meet immediately and recommend collective measures to U.N. members to "maintain or restore international peace and security." The "Uniting for Peace" mechanism has been used ten times, most frequently on the initiative of the United States.


There was a significant global effort to use the Uniting for Peace procedure to head off the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights drafted a proposed "Uniting for Peace" declaring military action without a Security Council resolution authorizing such action is contrary to the UN Charter and international law.  In April, 2003, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab League announced they would take the impending attack to the General Assembly.  Then-Assembly President Jan Kavan said he was expecting a request for such a meeting momentarily.


Support for a General Assembly emergency session on Iraq based on Uniting for Peace became the focus of a multi-level global campaign.  A few examples:  The Russian Duma passed a resolution calling for General Assembly intervention in Iraq.  So did the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of Thailand.  


A Greenpeace web petition at www.greenpeace.org calling for a General Assembly session has received 60,000 signatures worldwide within a few days.[2]  Many of the huge demonstrations around the world against the Iraq war called for the General Assembly to meet under â€Å“Uniting for Peace.â€Â

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