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Res. 377 to get around Russia & China vetoes to attack Syria

by marco Wed Aug 28th, 2013 at 08:50:31 PM EST

Has this been discussed yet as a legal recourse that France, Britain and the USA could resort to if they really wanted to attack Syria despite vetoes from Russia and China in the UN Security Council?

By adopting A/RES/377 A, on 3 November 1950, over two-thirds of UN Member states declared that, according to the UN Charter, the permanent members of the UNSC cannot and should not prevent the UNGA from taking any and all action necessary to restore international peace and security, in cases where the UNSC has failed to exercise its 'primary responsibility' for maintaining peace. Such an interpretation sees the UNGA as being awarded 'final responsibility'--rather than 'secondary responsibility'--for matters of international peace and security, by the UN Charter. Various official and semi-official UN reports make explicit reference to the Uniting for Peace resolution as providing a mechanism for the UNGA to overrule any UNSC vetoes;[35][36][37][38] thus rendering them little more than delays in UN action, should two-thirds of the Assembly subsequently agree that action is necessary.

Wikipedia: "United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377"

That Wikipedia article suggests strongly that Resolution 377 could be a way for the UN General Assembly to bypass UN Security Council decisions or inaction to give legal authorization to a foreign military intervention in a sovereign nation.

However, in this commentary (?) on the UN website, one Professor Christian Tomuschat of Humboldt University seems to poo-poo the legal and to some degree practical force of this resolution:

... it stands to reason that originally resolution 377 A (V) was hardly reconcilable with the Charter...

... where "action" seems to be necessary, the General Assembly is enjoined to refer the matter to the Council (Article 11, paragraph 2). ...

... it would actually be used against the Security Council only in case of general dissatisfaction with the policies of the permanent members. Notwithstanding their sheer numerical superiority, the many Members of the United Nations are much too weak to attempt to challenge the decisions made at the Security Council. Any application of Uniting for Peace with a view to taking enforcement action would at least need the support of one of the permanent members. To date, resolution 498 (V) of 1951 remains the only example of a situation where the General Assembly, at that time under dominating Western influence, recommended taking such action, notwithstanding the firm resistance of a permanent member.

And in a couple of places online, it was insinuated that Resolution 377 is sort of taboo because using it would allow the UN General Assembly to enforce actions against Israel that the USA could block through UN Security Council veto, e.g.

... if, after the report of the inspection team was examined, western countries were still to conclude that Assad was responsible, and the security council were to be paralysed by the use of the veto by one or more of its permanent members, the legal course would be to invoke the 1950 Uniting for Peace resolution in the course of the Korean war which authorises meeting in special session to make recommendations by a two-thirds majority to member states for collective measures, including "the use of armed force to maintain or restore international peace and security". This resolution was invoked on several occasions during the cold war, including to demand the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli forces from Suez in 1956 and following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979-80.  It has rarely been invoked of late, perhaps because of US concern that it could be used whenever it casts its veto on resolutions regarding Israeli actions in Palestine.

Francesc Vendrell
Former UN assistant secretary-general
"Syria and the problem of 'responsibility to protect'"
The Guardian, Tuesday 27 August 2013 19.35 BST

Anyone know more about it?

My impression is that all the great powers with veto in the Security Council would like to avoid setting a precedent giving power to the General Assembly. If anything it would hand over power to the G77, representing the South.

So I doubt it will be proposed, and if proposed I don't think it would pass.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 29th, 2013 at 07:57:32 AM EST
... if proposed I don't think it would pass.

Really?  If France or the UK invoked it and with the USA lobbied the countries of the world to vote for it, I think it would have a very high chance of passing, thereby enabling those three Western countries to get around Russia's and China's Security Council vetoes.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Thu Aug 29th, 2013 at 02:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the General Assembly 2/3 majority is needed. G77 has a 2/3 majority and Syria is a member. I think the amount of bribery and arm-twisting necessary would make whatever war aims there are look petty in comparision.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 29th, 2013 at 03:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ICJ - Bypassing the UN Security Council

(Israel National News) March 28, 2011 - The most recent unlawful use of Resolution 377 was in 2004 when the UN General Assembly called upon the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion regarding the construction of the fence to stop Palestinian Arab terrorists from infiltrating into Israel.

In an odd conclusion, the ICJ 'found' in this case [Advisory Opinion] a "failure of the Security Council to discharge its responsibilities" and then in defiance of the limited powers delegated to it by the UN Charter, by-passed the Security Council's powers and responsibilities.

UN vote recognizes state of Palestine; US objects

(UN) Nov. 29, 2012 - Voting by an overwhelming majority -- 138 in favour to 9 against (Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States), with 41 abstentions -- the General Assembly today accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations.

ISJ Opinion on Separation Wall by Israel as Occupying Power

by Oui on Thu Aug 29th, 2013 at 02:24:59 PM EST

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