The appeal to the General Assembly was made under a procedure called â€œUniting for Peace.â€ 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 â€œthreat to peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggressionâ€ 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 â€œmaintain or restore international peace and security.â€ The â€œUniting for Peaceâ€ mechanism has been used ten times, most frequently on the initiative of the
The Bush Administration is currently promoting a Security Council resolution that it claims will authorize it to attack
What will happen if the
Lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccr-ny.org) have drafted a proposed â€œUniting for Peaceâ€ resolution that governments can submit to the General Assembly. It declares that military action without a Security Council resolution authorizing such action is contrary to the UN Charter and international law.
The global peace movement can begin right now to discuss the value of such a resolution. If we conclude it is worthwhile, we can make it a central demand, for example in the next round of global anti-war demonstrations. Then we can mobilize pressure on governments that claim to oppose the war — the great majority of UN members — to demand that they initiate and support such a resolution.
Countries opposed to such a war can be asked to state now that, if there is a Security Council deadlock and a US attack on Iraq is imminent or under way, they will convene the General Assembly on an emergency basis to condemn the attack and order the US to cease fire and withdraw.
The sooner global public discussion begins laying the groundwork for such action the better. Wide public advocacy will help governments overcome their probable reluctance to take such a step. Further, the threat of such global condemnation may help deter the Bush administration â€“ and to a much greater extent deter its wobbling allies â€“ from launching such an attack in the first place.
[Prepared by Jeremy Brecher ([email protected]). Information on Uniting for Peace based on â€œA U.N. Alternative to War: â€˜Uniting for Peaceâ€™â€ by Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights and Jules Lobel, University of Pittsburgh Law School