February 21, 2024

Picture: United Nations Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres. Credit score AP/Joshua A. Bickel

It’s known as “Article 99.” And it hasn’t been used for many years. Till this week.

With an intensifying Israeli offensive and escalating civilian casualties, U.N. Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres invoked a hardly ever exercised energy this week to warn the Safety Council of an impending “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza. He urged members to demand an instantaneous humanitarian cease-fire.

Guterres invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Constitution — final used over half a century in the past — which says the secretary-general might inform the council of issues he believes threaten worldwide peace and safety.

Right here, Edith M. Lederer, longtime chief U.N. correspondent for The Related Press, breaks down what this might imply.


It’s a provision of the United Nations Constitution, the U.N. structure. It states that the secretary-general — the U.N.’s high diplomat — might convey to the eye of the Safety Council “any matter which, in his opinion, might threaten the upkeep of worldwide peace and safety.”

This offers an vital extra energy to the secretary-general, since the true energy on the U.N. is held by its 193 member nations and particularly the 15 international locations that serve on the Safety Council.

Article 99 is extraordinarily hardly ever used. The final time it was invoked was throughout preventing in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh and its separation from Pakistan.

Guterres invoked Article 99 as a result of he sees the state of affairs in Gaza vulnerable to a “full collapse” of the territory’s humanitarian system and civil order. It was one thing he felt wanted to be completed.


Arab and Islamic nations adopted up on Guterres’s letter instantly.

The United Arab Emirates, the Arab consultant on the Safety Council, circulated a brief decision to Safety Council members late Wednesday calling for an instantaneous humanitarian ceasefire. They plan to place that decision to a vote at a Safety Council assembly on Friday morning.

America, which is Israel’s closest ally and has veto energy on resolutions, has not supported a cease-fire. On Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wooden stated that the function of the Safety Council within the Israel-Gaza battle is to not get in the way in which of vital diplomacy that’s going down. And he stated the Safety Council decision presently “wouldn’t be helpful.”

This might sign a possible veto, however the U.S. has not stated both method.


As a result of Guterres believes that the humanitarian system and the humanitarian operations in Gaza are collapsing.

He additionally warns in his letter that within the present state of affairs, “amid fixed bombardment by the Israeli Protection Forces and with out shelter or necessities to outlive, I anticipate public order to fully break down quickly as a result of determined circumstances, rendering even restricted humanitarian help not possible.”

Guterres stated the state of affairs might get even worse, pointing to potential epidemics and the mass displacement of Palestinians into neighboring international locations. He sees a looming catastrophe.

Earlier secretaries-general have introduced threats that they noticed to worldwide peace and safety to the Safety Council with out mentioning Article 99. This contains Congo in 1960, the U.S. hostage disaster in Iran that started in November 1979, the Iran-Iraq battle in 1980 and extra not too long ago Myanmar in 2017.

We don’t know why they didn’t invoke Article 99, and a number of other of the earlier secretaries-general at the moment are lifeless. 

Guterres has been very outspoken on each the Hamas assaults on Israel and the very excessive dying toll of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.