Uniting for Peace or Cut and Run?

The day is approaching when a Security Council veto by the US will no longer shield Israel from the harm those recently coalesced and large voting blocs yearn to unleash. Count the votes and ask yourselves what the majority will do once the veto fetters are sliced.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus,

Arutz 7
"Uniting for Peace." Sounds lovely, utopian, doesn't it? Maybe not. Let's see.

When the bullies in the schoolyard gang up against you, won't pick you for any teams and jeer at your every effort to make friends, it can be awfully discouraging. But if your protector is the most powerful kid in the schoolyard, you always have an ace in the hole. No matter how many bullies try their best to pummel you, you can stay in that schoolyard, poked at, picked on, pretty unhappy, maybe, but basically safe.

Israel is that social outcast in the world's schoolyard, known as the United Nations. The UN Charter grants permanent members of the Security Council, of which the US is one, what amounts to ultimate veto power over any UN Resolution. With this veto power, the US is able to shield Israel from the bullies in the UN who try to pulverize her through their seemingly endless supply of twisted vitriol, wrapped up and delivered in a UN Resolution.

That may no longer be true. I'll wager that few have carefully read the densely packed and dimly reasoned advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, in which the court of kangaroos jumped on and tried to crush the exposed neck of Israel, the courtyard nerd. No surprise there. But a few paragraphs tucked away in the Opinion sent a shiver down my spine.

In a rarely utilized tool about which few are aware, there lurks a means to trump the veto power protection of the US for Israel. That tool, Resolution 377 (A)(V), is known as the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution. This procedural anomaly allows a majority of the Security Council members to override a permanent member's veto of a resolution. That resolution can then be forwarded to the General Assembly for action on a measure that had otherwise - most would have assumed irreversibly - already been rejected.

Resolution 377 can be an effective vehicle to finally squash the schoolyard outcast. The tool has not yet been fully exploited, but let's not wait too long. There is no doubt it is coming. You see, Resolution 377 provides a back door through which the United Nations General Assembly can take action on a measure despite "a negative vote of a permanent member," when "there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression."

In the parallel universe of the UN schoolyard, Israel is repeatedly condemned for trying to protect its citizens from endless efforts to end her existence. In this month's decision rendered by the UN's International Court of Justice, a misnomer if ever there was one, Israel's passive security barrier was pronounced a "threat to international peace." The training and letting loose of exploding humans, as we know, has never warranted official condemnation by either the UN or its puppet court.

Everyone knows that a Security Council permanent member's "veto power" is sacrosanct, so how can this rarely used procedural maneuver be considered legitimate? And if such a tool exists, why haven't the swashbucklers brandished it before?

Resolution 377 was conceived by the United States when North Korea invaded South Korea in June, 1950. The UN Security Council promptly voted to deploy UN troops to block North Korea's army. But eventually North Korea's protector, the former Soviet Union, began using its veto power to block Security Council votes relating to the Korean War.

That fall, Resolution 377(A)(V) was adopted by the General Assembly. The thinking went something like this: The primary responsibility of the Security Council is the maintenance of international peace and security. But when the veto by a lone Security Council member blocks the Council from fulfilling its primary duty to maintain international peace and security, then "the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately" and make appropriate recommendations to the GA members for collective measures. In other words, a super-majority of the Security Council members can "unite for peace" and create an alternative, novel path of action.

The distinguished academic and UN commentator, Ruth Wedgwood, described similar evolving inconsistencies as a natural evolution of cumbersome UN mechanisms. The mission-directed nature of the UN requires flexibility in its procedures so that it may achieve its raison d'etre.

The question is, who is defining the mission? What actions by which nations actually threaten international peace and security according to the United Nations? Do the bullies get to decide?

Resolution 377 was one basis upon which the ICJ rejected the lack of jurisdiction objections put forth by Israel, the US and nearly all Western democracies. But the Resolution's invocation in the Court's Opinion is an ominous harbinger.

The day is approaching when a Security Council veto by the US will no longer shield Israel from the harm those recently coalesced and large voting blocs yearn to unleash. Count the votes and ask yourselves what the majority will do once the veto fetters are sliced.

The bullies can smell a change in the air. The rules are about to change. It's time to build a new school, one with a level schoolyard ruled by democracy and decency, rather than by "a majority of tyrannies."