The declared objective of establishing the United Nations Organization was to prevent wars and conflicts among states. However, the achievement of this noble objective has proved to be a daunting challenge. The number of wars fought since the establishment of the organization in 1945 and the ongoing conflicts around the world, particularly in the conflict ridden Middle East today, beg explanation as what it is that impedes the UN initiatives for peace and stability.
One major reason that accounts for this failure is of course the non-democratic structure of the Security Council which provides the five permanent members with veto-power. The US having veto power in the Security Council has always employed it in favor of Israel and to the consternation of Palestine.
Historically, the role of the UN with regards to the Israel-Palestine conflict has not been very encouraging as far as the achievement of peace is concern. The UN has not only failed to allay the genuine grievances of the Palestinians but has also remained miserably impotent to prevent Israeli atrocities against them. This can partly be attributed to the influence that the US holds being a veto power and a major contributor of the UN and its various agencies.
This point should also be noted that from the beginning, once Israel was created and on its way to stability leading to instability of whole region, the UN was largely excluded from the politics of the issue. UN peacekeepers were stationed on the Israeli-Egyptian front but the UN was kept away from political decisions. Simultaneously, the UN Refugee Works Agency which was established to provide for the refugees until such time as they would return home, there was little involvement of the UN as a viable institution in political decision-making.
Moreover, the US has never shied away from bilateralizing the Israel-Palestine conflict by trying to sidelining the UN. For instance the UN could not implement its resolutions that include the provision of two state solutions and prevention of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine.
Fast forward to today, the General Assembly gathered to vote on a draft resolution which was aimed at reversing Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. All the members except US that vetoed the resolution, voted against Trump’s illegal decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Predictably, the draft resolution was vetoed by the United States in the 15-member UN Security Council to the chagrin of the oppressed and persecuted Palestinians.
Trump’s illegal and potentially devastating decision to reverse long time US policy on Jerusalem has been widely criticized and condemned.
Undoubtedly, it generated an outrage from Palestinians, the Arab world and concerns among the US’ western allies. This decision may have multiple and fatal repercussions across the world with prospects of peace in the region becoming a distant dream.
The fact and difference must be noted that the remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which articulated deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem. The resolution did not specifically mention the United States or Trump administration but only focused on the status of Jerusalem.
Under a 1950 resolution, a special session or emergency session can be called by the General Assembly for the consideration of a matter viewing to making suitable recommendations to members for collective measures if the Security Council fails to act. Despite having various options and gateways, the US failed to act in appropriate way to sort out the prolonged matter of Israel-Palestine conflict.
The UN mandate comes under the question when it simply states on the part of US that the resolution was vetoed in the Security Council in defence of US sovereignty. The UN needs to play its due role in the Middle East peace process. The UN must understand the intrinsic nature of conflict. Resolution proposed in the UN for conflict resolution underscores that it might play a decisive role to convince the US and concerned parties for amicable and acceptable solution.
In a nutshell, if the UN continues to remain passive on these kinds of issues across the world including Israel-Palestine conflict, it may lose its credibility. UN is considered to be the only platform available to developing and, perhaps, developed countries to get their international issues resolved. Considering all these facts with different aspects, the UN must play an active role in resolving the Palestine issue for the resumption of peace in international landscape particularly in the Middle East and to reinvigorate its status as the only and effective international platform for all issues so that peace may last.
It is equally important for all the states to respect the mandate of the UN and comply with its resolutions for the sake of peace and harmony in the world.
*Nisar Ahmed Khan, Research Affiliate at Strategic Vision Institute