The United Nations General Assembly voted for a second time on Tuesday on a ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate release of all hostages. UN calls on Israel and Hamas to immediately lay down arms Representatives of Egypt and Mauritania called for a vote in the Security Council after the United States vetoed it on Friday.
The Security Council has only fifteen members, while all 193 UN member states are represented in the General Assembly. On Tuesday, member states voted 153 in favor of the ceasefire and 10 against. The Netherlands and 22 countries abstained.
The second vote is more than a symbolic act, says Tom Beutelar of Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs. “That will have practical consequences.” Although a General Assembly resolution has no consequences – unlike the Security Council, which cannot impose sanctions – that is not the point. “If a member of the Security Council exercises his veto, the General Assembly shall convene urgently. Then that member should come and give an explanation,” he said.
In this case, that member is the United States. What is the practical effect? Buitelaar: “It could lose the goodwill of the US. It could make them look like a country supporting the Gaza bombings. It would damage their reputation.”
Not just in the small world of UN observers, he says. “It will be in the collective memory.” For example, the UN The United States is still haunted by Secretary of State Colin Powell’s performance on the Security Council. In 2003, twenty years ago, he said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that an attack on that country was justified. That information turned out to be false. “When America warned of an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the response was: Oh, the Americans are back with their famous intelligence.”
Beutlar says America has something at stake besides their credibility. “It takes a lot of effort for them to use their soft power.” The US derives this ‘soft power’ or influence from claiming to be the guardians of international law without immediately displaying arms. The American narrative is that this gives them an edge over China and Russia, who don’t care about human rights.
America called Russia to account
So the U.S. previously called Russia to account in the General Assembly, Beutler says. After the Russians vetoed their own invasion of Ukraine in the UN Security Council, Moscow and all UN It had to be answered before the Assembly of Member States.
For Ukraine in particular, Beutelar says the U.S. stance on the war in Gaza could backfire on them like a boomerang. UN Secretary-General Guterres, the quintessential representative of the international legal order, has made no secret of his frustration with the US approach. So what if the US soon lobbies again to condemn Russia? “Then countries will say: It’s nice that you want us to have that opinion, but what about you?”
US blocks ‘humanitarian ceasefire’ at UN Security Council
Residents of Gaza are on the brink of disaster, says UN Secretary-General But a vote on the ceasefire resolution in the Security Council was blocked by the US.
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