Published: 18:38, February 21, 2024 | Updated: 21:01, February 21, 2024
UNSC reform urged as US veto of cease-fire draft lamented
By Jan Yumul in Hong Kong

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield casts a veto vote during a UN Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas war, at UN Headquarters in New York City on February 20, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

Both the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries have lamented the US-veto of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, prompting Saudi Arabia to urge UNSC reform.

Echoing similar frustration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia released a statement stressing that there “is a need now more than ever” to “reform the Security Council” to carry out its responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security “with credibility and without double standards”.

On Feb 20, the UNSC failed to adopt the resolution — put forth by Algeria — which would have also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as a call for unhindered humanitarian access. It was the second time the United States has blocked such a text at UNSC since early December, defying growing international appeals for peace four months into the conflict.

GCC spokeswoman and Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al Thani said that the GCC countries — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar — expressed regret, calling Algeria’s draft “humanitarian” in content and consistent with international humanitarian law

GCC spokeswoman and Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al Thani said that the GCC countries — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar — expressed regret, calling Algeria’s draft “humanitarian” in content and consistent with international humanitarian law.

ALSO READ: US vetoes UNSC draft resolution demanding ceasefire in Gaza

"Our countries will continue their efforts along with partners to ensure reaching a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, in order to spare the blood of our Palestinian brothers and to ensure the arrival of more humanitarian and relief aid to the Strip and to protect civilians," Al Thani was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.

Apart from calling for UNSC reform, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia also warned of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, as well as the escalation of military operations “that threaten international peace and security”.

“The escalation does not serve any efforts calling for a dialogue and a peaceful solution to the Palestinian (question) in accordance with the relevant international resolutions,” the statement said.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the Permanent Mission of the UAE to the UN said it “is deeply disappointed with the outcome” of the vote on the humanitarian ceasefire draft resolution, which it noted was supported by 13 of the 15 members.

“After more than four months of carnage and no end in sight, this war must end,” it said.

ALSO READ: Hamas leader arrives in Cairo to hold talks on Gaza truce

According to the UN, resolutions by the UNSC are legally binding. If the council cannot reach a consensus or a passing vote on a resolution, they may choose to produce a non-binding presidential statement instead of a resolution.

“Now that the US has taken this unfortunate position at the UN Security Council, the average person in the Gulf expects the US to press Israel not to carry out its threatened assault on Rafah,” Jasim Husain, a Gulf analyst and former member of Bahrain's parliament, told China Daily.

“Also, people here want the US to ensure no fighting during the fasting month of Ramadan,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Feb 21, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation renewed its call on the international community, particularly the UNSC, to “assume its responsibilities” and “take urgent measures to stop the genocide facing the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip”.

READ MORE: 26 EU nations urge 'immediate humanitarian pause' in Gaza

The OIC also said it “regrets deeply” the United States’ use of veto against the UNSC draft resolution, describing it as “a negative reflection of the Security Council’s role in the maintenance of international peace and security, protection of civilians and ensuring delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip”.


jan@chinadailyapac.com