Let the voices of the WORLD be heard

Feature story - 20 March, 2003
The leaders of the most powerful nations on Earth have failed us. The Security Council has failed us. War has begun. The UN should not allow itself to be relegated to a strictly humanitarian role: it is their moment to stand up and give voice to the global demand to stop the fighting.

If ever there was a need for the United Nations to rise to the challenge it was conceived to meet, now is that time.

When the majority of world opinion stands opposed to war, who should represent those voices in the halls of the United Nations? The Security Council was built on the premise that the strongest nations, those with nuclear weapons, should have an unequal say in what's right and what's wrong. The five permanent members of the UN all hold vetoes, and while they may have been deadlocked over a motion to authorise force against Iraq, they would be equally deadlocked should anyone introduce a resolution condemning the US for acting without that authorisation.

Not so the General Assembly, in which all nations participate equally. Through a little-used mechanism known as Resolution 377A, the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, the General Assembly may be the last hope for disarming Iraq peaceably and stopping the US war machine.

The Uniting for Peace resolution empowers the General Assembly to meet in emergency session to address acts of aggression or a breach of the peace when the Security Council has been unable to act. Its was first used to bring about a cease-fire in the Suez crisis of 1950, forcing Britain and France to withdraw from Egypt within a week, even after they had vetoed calls for a cease-fire in the Security Council. It has been used ten times since then, most often at the request of the United States.

The General Assembly can meet immediately and recommend collective measures to UN members to "maintain or restore international peace and security," including the deployment of peace-keeping forces. But more importantly, the General Assembly can give political shape to the world-wide outcry against this war. A war that has until now simply not been authorised by the gathered nations of the world should now be forcefully condemned, and those responsible for crimes against innocent victims be called to justice.

If you believe, as we do, that the very future of the world, and of the United Nations, is being put at risk in the name of a pre-emptive war, please join the call for the UN General Assembly to respond. Ask that the Uniting for Peace resolution be invoked, that the war on Iraq be condemned, and that peaceable means of disarming Iraq be sought.

The next hours may provide our last chance to change a dangerous course of history. The United Nations must not allow a world order based on multilateralism to be replaced with one in which the

mightiest and richest make the rules.

Take action now -- ask the UN to convene an emergency session under the Uniting for Peace resolution.

Download a legal opinion on the Uniting for Peace resolution and how it might be applied.