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A Short History of America's U.N. Record


The Independent, Mar. 14, 2003

"For 30 years, America's veto policy in the United Nations has been central to its foreign policy. More than 70 times the United States has shamelessly used its veto in the U.N., most recently to crush a Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli killing of the British U.N. worker Iain Hook in Jenin last Dec. Most of America's vetoes have been in support of its ally Israel. It has vetoed a resolution calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights (Jan., 1982), a resolution condemning the killing of 11 Muslims by Israeli soldiers near the al-Aqsa mosque (Apr., 1982), and a resolution condemning Israelis [sic] slaughter of 106 Lebanese refugees at the U.N. camp at Qana (Apr., 1986)."
"And now we are told by George Bush Junior that the Security Council will become irrelevant if France, Germany and Russia use their veto [against a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq]? I often wonder how much further the sanctimoniousness of the Bush administration can go. Much further, I fear. So here's a little idea that might just make the American administration even angrier and even more aware of its obligations to the rest of the world. It's a forgotten U.N. General Assembly resolution that could stop an invasion of Iraq, a relic of the Cold War. It was, ironically, pushed through by the U.S. to prevent a Soviet veto at the time of the Korean conflict, and actually used at the time of Suez."
"For U.N. resolution 377 allows the General Assembly to recommend collective action '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.' This arcane but intriguing piece of U.N. legislation - passed in 1950 and originally known as the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution - might just be used to prevent Messrs Bush and Blair going to war if their plans are vetoed in the Security Council by France or Russia. Fundamentally, it makes clear that the U.N. General Assembly can step in - as it has 10 times in the past - if the Security Council is not unanimous."
"Duncan Currie, a lawyer working for Greenpeace, has set out a legal opinion, which points out that the phrase in 377 providing that 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' means that - since 'threat' and 'breach' are mentioned separately - the Assembly can be called into session before hostilities start. These 'breaches,' of course, could already be alleged, starting with the American air attack on Iraqi anti-ship gun batteries near Basra on Jan. 13 this year."