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United States tries to block UN peace-bid

United States tries to block United Nations peace bid

New York/Auckland 1/2 April 2003: Greenpeace today called on all members of the United Nations to reject moves by the US to block a resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning the invasion of Iraq and calling for a ceasefire and withdrawal of US British and Australian armed forces.

In a communication obtained by Greenpeace, the United States urges countries to vote against or abstain from supporting a General Assembly meeting to discuss the war, adding it would be considered "unhelpful and directed against the United States." They further threaten that invoking the Uniting for Peace resolution will be "harmful to the UN".

“This is the last chance for the overwhelming majority of UN member states who are opposed to this war to stand up for the charter of the UN and the rule of law," said Greenpeace campaigner Robbie Kelman.

"It's vital that UN member states reject US pressure to undermine their rights, and support the Arab League's resolution to call for an end to the ongoing invasion of Iraq, which is costing more lives by the day," he added.

"This communication is nothing short of a thinly veiled threat by the US”.

Under UN Resolution 377, the so-called ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution, a majority of the member states of the UN can call for an extraordinary session of the General Assembly when the Security Council has failed in its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, because of a ‘lack of unanimity’ among the permanent members. (1)

"A few weeks ago, George W. Bush wanted the members of the UN Security Council to ‘stand up and be counted’, and to cast their votes in open session,” said Kelman. “But, after it was clear they were going to lose, American and British diplomats opted out and never brought the resolution to a vote. As opposition to the war continues to grow, the US is desperate to squash further debate. We call on all nations to vote with their consciences and with the overwhelming majority of global public opinion, and not to give in to US diplomatic and economic threats,” he added.

This latest move by Arab League diplomats comes one week after Arab League Foreign Ministers adopted a resolution calling for action by the UN Security Council. Last week's resolution stated that, if the Security Council route failed, as it did, the issue must be brought to the General Assembly. (2)

(1) Resolution 377 recognises that the Security Council has primary responsibility for keeping the peace, but notes that a failure of the Security Council to discharge its responsibilities “does not deprive the General Assembly of its rights or relieve it of its responsibilities under the Charter in regard to the maintenance of international peace and security”. The operative part of Resolution 377 says: Resolves that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security. If not in session at the time, the General Assembly may meet in emergency special session within twenty-four hours of the request therefor. Such emergency special session shall be called if requested by the Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations;”

The full text of Resolution 377 can be found at {" }

(3) See - and then click on document A/57/766.

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