US to UN: Butt out

US pressures General Assembly not to meet

Feature story - April 10, 2003
An extraordinary communication from the United States to UN representatives around the world has been leaked to Greenpeace. In it, the United States warns that the simple act of support for a General Assembly meeting to discuss the war will 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."

Greenpeace activists anchored a large banner to a boat today, reading 'When Will the U.S. Disarm? No War' and sailed it in front of the United Nations headquarters.

Greenpeace has been actively lobbying at the United Nations against the war, and many delegates have expressed both publicly and privately their distaste for what they see as US attempts to "strongarm" the world community to do as it is told. One delegate was so incensed with the memo circulated by the US that he leaked the full document.

The Uniting for Peace resolution, which the US is trying to head off, has a long history of stopping conflict. Ironically, it has most often been invoked by the US to overcome vetoes by the Soviet Union during the cold war. Under its terms, the full 191 member United Nations General Assembly can gather to make recommendations for restoring the peace when the Security Council is deadlocked or unable to take action. Somewhat hilariously, one of the reasons the US says the General Assembly should not take up the issue of war in Iraq is that the "Security Council remains seized of this matter." Seized is certainly the correct term: the engine of peace is simply not turning.

There are those who say that the United Nations has been harmed by the Security Council debate on Iraq and the US coalition action without authorisation. However, it can also be said that the UN showed extraordinary strength in withstanding the pressure to rubber-stamp an illegal invasion. The only course of action open now to the global community is to demand the immediate end of hostilities and a return to UN-sanctioned disarmament measures. It's the right thing to do for world peace, it's the right thing to do for the future of the United Nations.

In the past two weeks, Greenpeace Cyberactivists have been part of the global outcry for an emergency session of the UN. We've sent a record 60,000 appeals to United Nations representatives calling for the General Assembly to denounce the war in Iraq and to call for an immediate cease-fire. And despite the fierce US pressure, it looks like our global demand will be met.

A press announcement by the Arab League Monday confirms that they will be invoking the "Uniting for Peace" resolution to bring all 191 member nations of the UN together. "The point of the request is to save the lives of Iraqi civilians," one Arab diplomat said to the Associated Press. "We will ask for a cease-fire and a return to peaceful disarmament in Iraq."

Dozens of other nations have already gone on record saying they will support the call for an emergency session. We urge the General Assembly to meet swiftly and give shape to the global voices that are demanding an end to this illegal war.

Please write to the Foreign Ministers of Cuba, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Fiji, Mexico, Chile, Germany, Russia, and France, and ask them to support 'Uniting for Peace' You can write all of them by clicking here.

If you've already done that, you can send an e-card to your friends and colleagues asking them to support the Uniting for Peace resolution as well.

And if you've done both of those things, please help Greenpeace continue its work against this war by becoming a financial supporter.

Full text of the leaked document here.