The United States has used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council three times in less than two months to kill resolutions calling for peace in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Washington is sending billions of dollars worth of weapons to Israel, directly assisting the country as it commits war crimes against Palestinian civilians.
On December 8, the Security Council voted on a resolution that called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and the unconditional release of all hostages.
The United States was the only country on the 15-member council that voted against the measure.
#BREAKING United States vetoes Security Council draft resolution that would have demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, and immediate and unconditional release of all hostages
In Favour: 13
Against: 1 (US)
Abstain: 1 (UK) pic.twitter.com/hY0YcJ1JKF
— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) December 8, 2023
This resolution had been introduced by the United Arab Emirates, and had the support of more than 90 UN member states.
The 13 Security Council members that voted for the measure were Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Russia, Switzerland, and the UAE.
Close U.S. ally the United Kingdom was the only country to abstain in the vote.
UN Security Council vote (on December 8) calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza:
(🇺🇳Backed by 90+ UN member states and Secretary-General… https://t.co/b0FM7mhLEn
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) December 9, 2023
The United States helped to design the United Nations after World War II, concentrating power in the Security Council and giving permanent seats with veto power to the victors: the U.S., UK, France, USSR (now Russia), and China.
Many countries in the Global South have called to expand the Security Council and to eliminate the veto.
China and Russia have repeatedly expressed support for expanding the council. But Washington has adamantly opposed the initiative.
Global South leaders are particularly frustrated by the fact that the UK and France, each of which has a population of fewer than 70 million people, both have permanent seats on the Security Council, but not many of the most populous countries on Earth, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, or Brazil.
Brazil’s left-wing President Lula da Silva stressed this November that the failure of the UN to bring peace to Palestine demonstrates that the system is “broken” and has a “lack of credibility”.
“The UN needs change”, Lula said, calling to expand the Security Council and remove the veto.
“The UN of 1945 does not work in 2023”, the Brazilian leader added.
U.S. rebukes UN secretary-general’s historic invocation of article 99
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has publicly called for a ceasefire in Gaza, but was rejected by Washington.
Guterres took the extraordinary measure of invoking article 99 of the UN Charter, for the first time in five decades.
The Western powers killed a UN Security Council resolution that proposed a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza
The resolution was proposed by Russia
5 countries voted for the ceasefire:
4 voted against:
🇺🇲 US… pic.twitter.com/6UMfoRRqQH
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 17, 2023
Article 99 states,
The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.
The Associated Press noted,
Article 99 is extremely rarely used. The last time it was invoked was during fighting in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh and its separation from Pakistan.
In the case of the Bangladeshi national liberation war of 1971, Pakistan’s right-wing military regime ethnically cleansed and committed genocide against Bengalis, with the support of the U.S. government—specifically President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.
The genocidal situation in Palestine is strikingly similar today.
This November, top UN experts warned that “grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians… point to a genocide in the making”.
The UN experts wrote:
[Israeli officials] illustrated evidence of increasing genocidal incitement, overt intent to “destroy the Palestinian people under occupation”, loud calls for a ‘second Nakba’ in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and the use of powerful weaponry with inherently indiscriminate impacts, resulting in a colossal death toll and destruction of life-sustaining infrastructure.
The Wall Street Journal reported on December 1 that the “U.S. has provided Israel with large bunker buster bombs, among tens of thousands of other weapons and artillery shells”.
In less than two months, Washington sent Israel approximately 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells.
In fact, Gaza is now one of the most heavily bombed areas in history, according to a report in the Financial Times.
U.S. vetoed two other Security Council resolutions on Gaza
The United States voted against two similar resolutions in October.
On October 16, the U.S. and its allies the UK, France, and Japan voted against a measure introduced by Russia that called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
Two days later, the U.S. unilaterally vetoed a resolution introduced by Brazil that urged “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza.
The UK abstained in that vote. Russia did too, but as a form of protest, arguing that the resolution was too weak, instead urging a ceasefire.
US vetoes Security Council resolution that would have called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver lifesaving aid to millions in Gaza
Favor: 12 (Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland,UAE)
Against: 1 (US)
Abstain: 2 Russia, UK pic.twitter.com/y4tiAbRMUQ
— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) October 18, 2023
At the Security Council meeting on December 8, Russia’s UN representative, Dmitriy Polyanskiy, warned that the United States was “leaving scorched earth in its wake”.
China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, stated,
The task required of the Council is very clear and definitive—act immediately, achieve a ceasefire, protect civilians and avoid a human catastrophe on a larger scale.
“The task required of the Council is very clear and definitive – act immediately, achieve a ceasefire, protect civilians and avoid a human catastrophe on a larger scale” – Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China pic.twitter.com/VY9LEf2vKs
— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) December 8, 2023
139 of the 193 members of the United Nations recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, but it is not officially a UN member state—because the United States has prevented it from becoming one.
Palestine does however have observer status in the UN (along with the Vatican).
The representative of the observer state of Palestine, Riyad Mansour, participated in the December 8 Security Council session.
“Millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance, every single one of them is sacred and worth saving”, he cautioned.
By failing to approve a ceasefire, the Security Council is ensuring that Israeli “war criminals are given more time to perpetrate their crimes”, Mansour added.
The Palestinian representative asked,
How can this be justified? How can anyone justify the slaughter of an entire people?