A Role for the UN General Assembly in the Current NATO Russia Crisis

By Joan Russow

The writer, Joan Russow, PhD, is Co-Ordinator, Global Compliance Research Project, based in Canada.

VICTORIA BC, Canada (IDN) — Over the years, whenever the United States— with or without the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—decided to go to war, the US used pretexts for war.

Human security to justify the invasion of Iraq in 1991, humanitarian intervention in Kosovo in 1999, Article 51 self-defence, in Afghanistan in 2001 prevention /pre-emptive strike, in Iraq in 2003, the Responsibility to Protect , in Haiti, in 2004 and in Libya, in 2011. and when all these pretexts were discredited a new one emerged: A Canadian- inspired “the Will to Intervene.”

Each time, the United States would skip chapter VI—the peaceful resolution of disputes and go to chapter 7, the only means to make the pretext be deemed legal. And when the UNSC did not support the invasion, the US decries the UN for being ineffective. There is, however, an important role for the United Nations General Assembly through the invoking of the 1950 “Uniting for Peace” resolution 377.

In 1950, the Uniting for Peace resolution was initiated by the United States and submitted by the “Joint Seven-Powers” in October 1950, as a means of circumventing additional Soviet vetoes during the Korean War (25 June 1950–27 July 1953).

The 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 states the following:

“To maintain international peace and security and to take collective measures for the prevention of aggression or other breaches of the peace and to bring by peaceful means and in conformity with principles of justice and international law

RESOLVES that if the UN Security Council because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members of the UNSC fails to exercise its responsibility where there has been an act of aggression, the UNGA shall consider the matter with a view to make recommendations.”

In 2003, prior to the invasion of Iraq, we initiated the Uniting for Peace Coalition and lobbied for the UN General Assembly to invoke the resolution res.377 to have an emergency session to prevent the invasion or Iraq.

There seemed to be support until the US sent an intimidating letter, described as a non-paper, to all the members of the UNGA advising them not to support the proposal to use res 377 to initiate an emergency session of the UNGA

At that time, under the UNSC 2002 resolution which was passed unanimously, Sergey Lavrov who was then the Russian Ambassador to the UN had not vetoed the resolution because President Bush had assured him that the expression “there would be serious consequences” would not give legitimacy to the invasion of Iraq (personal communication)

Given the lack of unanimity among the permanent members of the UNSC to resolve the conflict between NATO and Russia, there is the possibility of invoking the Uniting for Peace resolution and transferring the power to the UNGA and the UNGA could recommend the implementation of Chapter 6 the peaceful resolution of disputes

Under chapter VI are the following provisions:

The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

Article 33.1

In making recommendations under the UNGA it should also take into consideration that legal disputes should as a general rule be referred by the parties to the international court of justice in accordance with the provisions of the statute of the court.

Article 36.3

Under Chapter VI of the Charter Article 27 provides for an examination of the issue where the parties, NATO and Russia, to the conflict, would have to abstain.

The first recommendation must be an immediate cease fire

There must also be a recommendation about the importance of common security being established where both parties are deemed to be secure.

As the late Olof Palme, the Swedish Prime Minister (1927-86) once said “no one is secure unless all are secure.”

To address the importance of common security, the UNGA could recommend the examining, not only previous security agreements between NATO and Russia such as the 1997 Paris agreement and 2014 Minsk agreement but also actions and policies which may have provoked this conflict such as the expansion of NATO, the DEFENDER EUROPE and the Russian build-up of troops at the border of Ukraine. [IDN-InDepthNews — 28 February 2022]

Image: UN General Assembly Hall. Source: NATO

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