UN chief invokes rare Article 99 of UN’s charter, Powerful Move

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the Security Council of a global threat from the Gaza war as Arab states seek to leverage that to renew a push for the council to call for a ceasefire.

Guterres told the council in a letter that the Gaza war “may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security.”

He invoked Article 99 of the founding UN Charter that allows him to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The article has not been used for decades, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

“We are facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system. The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region,” Guterres wrote.

“Such an outcome must be avoided at all cost,” he said, again calling for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared.

The United States, one of five veto powers on the 15-member council, is opposed to a ceasefire between its ally Israel and Hamas because it believes such a move would only benefit the Palestinian.

Washington does support humanitarian pauses to protect civilians and allow for the release of hostages taken by Hamas in an Oct. 7 attack on Israel. It abstained last month to allow the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for pauses in fighting.

The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Guterres’ letter.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington had seen the letter but declined to comment on it specifically, adding that the United States would continue to consult with Guterres and members of the UN Security Council.

“Of course there are threats to regional security and threats to global security that are presented by this conflict. We said that in the very aftermath of October 7th, and we made quite clear that one of the things that we are trying to do is prevent this conflict from spreading,” Miller told reporters at a regular news briefing.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour on Wednesday said Arab diplomats were “fine-tuning” a draft Security Council resolution to call for a ceasefire. A resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, China, France or Britain.

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