The UN needs to update its mandateMonday, May 17, 2021
The past week the world watched in horror the conflict taking place between Israel and Palestine. The most significant event occurred during the weekend when the building which houses the prestigious new agencies such as The Associated Press and the Al Jazeera networks was totally demolished in an air strike by the Israeli security forces. The situation has deteriorated so much that even women and children have been the main victims.
The media reported that since the start of the conflict at least 180 people have been killed in Palestine, and at least 30 people in Israel. Moreover, this past weekend, one family lost 10 members, including five sons and a mother.
I listened to the United Nations Security Council meeting which was held this weekend in New York, at which representatives from from both sides of the conflict presented their arguments, including other members of the UN Security Council. A few member states also strongly voiced their opposition and condemnation of the violence. Some members even provided solutions ranging from adopting firmer policies to adopting a two-state solution proposed by the Oslo Accords.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterrez noted that the UN is actively engaging all sides towards a ceasefire in ending the conflict and has reminded both sides that the constant bombardment of media houses and civilian targets violates international law. But how effective are these attempts at ceasefire?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing since 1948, and attempts by various groups, nations, and even the UN itself to resolve it have been futile. I even recall that historic handshake between the two leaders of Palestine and Israel, which US President Bill Clinton negotiated at the White House lawn in 1993. However, the media reported today that the UN's hands were tied prior to this new violence, as the US asked them to not to intervene so early at this stage.
I have always wondered the true mandate of the UN Security Council. One may recall that the United States invaded Iraq in the second Gulf War, despite objections from the UN Security Council.
According to the UN's website, it operates by a charter. Moreover, the website reveals that one of its main objectives is the maintenance of international peace and security and to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. However, one of its roles involves peacekeeping, which naturally evolved with the passage of time, and was not explicitly provided for in the charter — which is quite disturbing. Therefore, the UN Security Council should urgently change its mandate to include those specific revisions and to include others that may be effective.
It could also expand its charter and, in effect, update it to grant more power to effectively make its own decisions and disarm groups or member states that have not been adhering to the rules of international interactions. In other words, it should be able to operate independently and free from outside interferences. Finally, it should continually invoke Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression of the charter to make it a permanent feature.
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