UN Secretary-General invokes Article 99 in letter to Security Council on Gaza

UN Secretary-General invokes Article 99 in letter to Security Council on Gaza

Just Security reports:

On Dec. 6, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent an urgent letter to the Security Council on the desperate humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, using the seldom invoked authority in Article 99 of the UN Charter. In his letter, the Secretary-General reiterates his previous appeals for a humanitarian ceasefire and warns that public order in Gaza will “completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions.”

A rarely used diplomatic tool, Article 99 allows the head of the UN to raise to the Security Council’s attention “any issue that may aggravate existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security.” This is the first time Guterres has invoked Article 99 since taking office in 2017. Past secretaries-general have explicitly invoked Article 99 only six times since the organization’s creation in 1945, although they have used their implicit responsibility to spotlight crises more frequently. The last Secretary-General to formally invoke Article 99 was Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, in reference to the situation in Lebanon back in 1989.

While Guterres’ letter carries symbolic weight, it is unlikely to have any practical impact on the Security Council’s work. Invoking Article 99 can be understood as a desperate diplomatic appeal for international action. In practice, the secretary general’s letter will merely trigger a new Security Council meeting on Gaza, probably before the end of the week. But adding another meeting onto the Security Council’s program of work will not change the political dynamics that have stymied the global body from taking meaningful action to stop the fighting to date. [Continue reading…]

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