United Nations, Oct 26 (IANS) Two duelling resolutions from Russia and the US on the Gaza situation have failed miring the UN Security Council in inaction on the spiralling humanitarian crisis that also threatens to engulf the region in wider conflicts.
On Wednesday, the resolution proposed by the US was vetoed by Russia and China, while Russia’s resolution failed to get the required nine votes to pass and did not turn the negative votes of the US and the UK into vetoes.
Four resolutions on Gaza have failed at the Council in the last ten days, with Russia and the US vetoing one each, illustrating the inefficacy of the UN’s highest decision-making body when national interests of the permanent members collide.
Russia and the US will have to appear before the General Assembly to explain their vetoes under a resolution adopted by it last year.
The General Assembly had already scheduled an emergency session on Palestine on Thursday with 104 nations and Palestine and the European Union signed up by Wednesday evening to speak. (India was not on the list of speakers.)
It is likely to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire, which would only be symbolic as it does not have the enforcement powers that the Council has.
US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Moscow of acting “in bad faith” and cynically proposing the resolution with “a number of problematic sections” at the last moment without consultations.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia countered: “National and narrow self-centred ideological and political interests prevailed over the aim of stopping a humanitarian disaster.”
The votes on the rival resolutions came after France tried unsuccessfully to delay bringing the resolutions to the floor in order to seek consensus, according to diplomatic sources.
Both resolutions condemned attacks on civilians, demanded the release of the hostages and called for humanitarian assistance to Gaza, but differed on stopping the conflict.
The Russian draft called for a “ceasefire”, while the US wanted only a “humanitarian pause” – a semantic difference between a longer and formal stoppage of hostilities and a brief one with a specific goal.
The United Arab Emirates joined China and Russia to vote against the US resolution, while Brazil, whose resolution had been vetoed by the US last week, and Mozambique abstained. The other ten vote for it.
Gabon, China, and UAE voted for Russia’s resolution along with it, the UK and the US voted no, and nine, including Japan and France, abstained.
UAE, the only Arab nation on the Council, implied that there were double standards in the approach to the Gaza crisis between the US resolution that it opposed and Russia’s it backed.
“There is no hierarchy of civilian lives,” UAE’s Permanent Representative Lana Nusseibeh said.
She said: “Yesterday, we heard dozens of statements imploring this council to assign the same value to Palestinian life as it does to Israeli life. We cannot allow any equivocation on this point.”
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke out against the notion that it followed double standards.
He said: “There is no hierarchy when it comes to protecting civilian lives. A civilian is a civilian is a civilian, no matter his or her nationality, ethnicity, age, gender, faith.”
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @arulouis)