Security Council passes resolution demanding ‘an immediate ceasefire’ during Ramadan

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe The UN Security Council votes on a draft resolution on the situation in the Middle East put forth by the United States.

United Nations, 25 March 2024

The UN Security Council on Monday passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza. There were 14 votes in favour with the United States abstaining. Follow live coverage here.

10:47 AM

Reacting immediately after the voteSecretary-General António Guterres said on X that the long-awaited resolution must be implemented; the Council’s failure to so “would be unforgivable.”

10:40 AM

Algeria’s Ambassador Amar Benjama said the draft will put an end to the massacres that have been going on for five months.

“The bloodbath has gone far too long,” he said. “Finally, the Security Council is finally responding to the calls of the international community and the Secretary-General.”

The draft conveys a clear message to the Palestinian people, he said.

“The international community, in its entirety, did not abandon you,” he said. “Adopting today’s resolution is on the beginning to meet the aspiration of the Palestinian people…to put an end of the bloodbath without any conditions.”

0:39 AM

The Russian verbal amendment did not pass due to lack of votes.

But in the substantive vote, there were 14 in favour, with the US abstaining. The resolution therefore has passed.

10:36 AM

The sticking point is the removal of the word “permanent” from an earlier version of the draft. It now calls for an “immediate ceasefire”.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the fact that word “permanent” in operative paragraph one was replaced with weaker language is “unacceptable”.

“We all received instructions for a vote on the text that contained the word ‘permanent’” and anything else could be seen as permission for Israel to continue its attacks, he said.

As such, his delegation proposed an oral amendment to return the word “permanent” to the draft.

10:27 AM

Israel and Yemen will be taking part in the meeting together with the Observer State of Palestine.

Those who wish to make a statement before the vote are speaking.

Mozambique’s Ambassador Pero Afonso is introducing the draft on behalf of the 10 elected members (E-10) of the Council.

He said it was essential to end the catastrophic situation in the Gaza Strip, which is a matter of “grave concern to the entire international community” and a clear threat to peace and security. 

There is a mandate under the UN Charter to work towards these key aims and this is the main motivation for introducing this text.

He said the E-10 group have always supported the call for an immediate ceasefire as a “fundamental” starting point. But the draft resolution also demands the immediate release of all hostages and full humanitarian access to them.

“Given the utmost urgency of the situation” we call on all members to vote in favour of the resolution and work towards a comprehensive ceasefire and a lasting peace in the Middle East, he said. 

10:25 AM

The meeting has finally got underway. Ambassador Yamazaki has led a minute’s silence in honour of those who died in the terrorist attack in Moscow on Friday.

10:13 AM

These are unusual scenes going on now in the Chamber. The Russian Ambassador is in a large huddle with many other top diplomats, including the Palestinian Observer and the Ambassador for Malta. There are clearly negotiations still going on over the draft that’s due to be voted on.

Only a few of the ambassadors are already at the table. It looks like we won’t see the gavel come down for a while yet.

10:07 AM

Japan holds the presidency of the Security Council for March. Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki will get the meeting underway soon but delegations are still filing into the Council Chamber, some huddled together in animated discussion. 

09:30 AM – Disagreement in the Council has seen several rounds of drafts quashed by one or more of its five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) since the war began in October following the Hamas-led terror attacks on southern Israel.

The current draft that ambassadors will consider around the iconic horseshoe table in the Security Council Chamber this morning is only four operative paragraphs long and was prepared by its non-permanent members.

The resolution is a bare-bones call for a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan, which began on 11 March. It also demands the return of about 130 hostages seized in Israel and held in Gaza and emphasizes the urgent need to allow ample lifesaving aid to reach a starving population in the besieged enclave.

The demand to end hostilities has so far eluded the Council following the Israeli forces’ invasion of Gaza in October after Hamas attacks left almost 1,200 dead and 240 taken hostage.

Since then, Israel’s daily bombardment alongside its near total blockade of water, electricity and lifesaving aid has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza,  according to the health ministry there, where a recent UN-backed report showed an imminent famine unfolding.

Missile attacks on Gaza are continuing.
© UNICEF/Eyad El Baba Missile attacks on Gaza are continuing.

While a week-long ceasefire in November saw an exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinians detained in Israel, fighting resumed and has only escalated, as the death toll and malnutrition in Gaza continues to soar along with ever louder calls to end the war and rapidly address the stark humanitarian suffering.

Previous rejected drafts contained basically the same provisions as this new one, as did resolutions 2712 and 2720 that were adopted in late 2023, but points of contention persist among the membership while calls continue to demand that the 15-member Council take a stronger stand to end the conflict.

Read our explainer on what happens when the Security Council deadlocks here, and follow our coverage as the meeting unfolds.

  • The Council would demand “an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire
  • It would also demand “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs” and “that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain”
  • Other provisions would have the Council emphasize “the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip.
  • In this regard, the draft would have the Council reiterate its demand for the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale, in line with international humanitarian law as well as resolutions 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023).
  • A US-proposed draft to end the war in Gaza was vetoed by permanent Council members China and Russia, in a vote of 11 favour to three against (Algeria, China, Russia) and one abstention (Guyana)
  • Several ambassadors voiced their support for a new draft proposed by the “E-10” group of non-permanent Council members, which calls for an immediate ceasefire
  • The vetoed draft would have made imperative an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza, with an “urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance” to all civilians and lifting “all barriers” to delivering aid
  • Council members disagreed over elements of the draft, and some highlighted glaring exclusions despite having raised multiple concerns with the US during negotiations
  • Ambassadors largely supported swift action to bring food and lifesaving aid at scale into Gaza, where concerns of famine grew as Israel continues to block and slow walk shipments into the besieged enclave
  • Some Council members called for pursuing the two-State solution to the ongoing conflict
  • Israel’s ambassador was invited to speak, calling the draft’s failure to pass and condemn Hamas “a stain that will never be forgotten”

The original article appeared here.

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