Correspondence with the Israeli Embassy on
Security Council resolutions being violated by
In December 2002, when the US/UK were castigating Iraq for its violation of UN Security Council resolutions in the run up to their invasion, I wrote to the Israel Embassy in London suggesting that Israel should also heed President Bush’s call that “resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced”.
The following correspondence ensued:-
First letter by me
2 Palace Green
16 December 2002
Attached is an article on UN Security Council
resolutions currently being violated by countries other than
Do you agree that
In his speech to the UN on 12 September, President Bush told the UN:
“We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime.”
Is that not equally true of
(I enclosed an article by Stephen Zunes, entitled United Nations Security Council Resolutions Currently Being Violated by Countries Other than Iraq ).
First reply from the Israeli Embassy
19 December 2002
Dear Dr Morrison
Thank you for your letter of 16 November [sic].
The commonly made claim that
The UN Charter is founded on the understanding that different situations and disputes require different responses, and that not every conflict requires identical action. Therefore, the UN distinguishes between two sorts of Security Council resolution. Those passed under Chapter Six deal with the peaceful resolution of disputes and entitle the council to make non-binding recommendations. Those under Chapter Seven give the council broad powers to take action, including warlike action, to deal with “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression”.
Such Chapter Seven resolutions,
binding on all UN members, were rare during the cold war. But they were used
One might ask, if only for the sake of argument, what if the main Security Council resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict had been Chapter Seven resolutions? The problem would still then arise that the resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict are not unilateral – they can only be implemented through the actions of all parties.
Resolution 242 of 1967, passed after
the six-day war and frequently cited in the double-standards argument, does not
Why? First is the question of
borders. The diplomats who drafted Resolution 242 said afterwards that they
intended to allow for some changes in the armistice lines that separated
Furthermore, resolution 242 cannot be implemented without arriving at a negotiated agreement.
For example, the resolution calls
for a “just” settlement of the Palestinian refugee issue. The UN General
Assembly resolution 194 of 1948, gives all refugees of 1948 (Palestinian and
Jewish) the right to return, or to get compensation. The resolution states that
these refugees have to be willing to “live at peace with their neighbours” yet
the Palestinians, having rejected the UN-sanctioned partition of
Unlike resolutions concerning
But beyond all this lies a more
significant, and indeed more fundamental distinction between
Is there a double standard at work here? I would ask you to do a simple test. Take two states, one a dictatorship, a serial violator of mandatory, unilateral Security Council resolutions and human rights, dedicated to the acquisition of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and fighting for regional domination. The other a democracy put to the test of survival for decades, committed to the rule of law and freedom of speech, and always committed to peace, both for ourselves and for our neighbours.
I leave the answer to you.
Public Affairs Spokesman
Second letter by me
26 December 2002
Dear Mr Rosen
Thank you for your letter of 19 December.
You write that the “commonly made claim that
There are many Security Council resolutions
requesting action by
I cite as examples those Security Council resolutions passed since 1979 calling for the dismantling of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and the cessation of further settlement activity, for example, resolution 446 passed on 22 March 1979, which:
“Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.”
be denied that this resolution calls for
It is true, as you say, that all Security Council resolutions
requesting action by
Quite the reverse. Article 25 of the Charter says that:
“The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.”
There is no distinction there between Chapter VI and Chapter VII resolutions. Since Article 25 is in Chapter V, and not in Chapter VI nor in Chapter VII, surely it must apply to both Chapter VI and Chapter VII resolutions?
That was certainly the view of the International
Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion of 21 June 1971 (which arose from a
request by the Security Council for an advisory opinion on the legal
consequences for States of the continued presence of
“It has been contended that Article 25 of the Charter applies only to enforcement measures adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. It is not possible to find in the Charter any support for this view. Article 25 is not confined to decisions in regard to enforcement action but applies to ‘the decisions of the Security Council’ adopted in accordance with the Charter. Moreover, that Article is placed, not in Chapter VII, but immediately after Article 24 in that part of the Charter which deals with the functions and powers of the Security Council. If Article 25 had reference solely to decisions of the Security Council concerning enforcement action under Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter, that is to say, if it were only such decisions which had binding effect, then Article 25 would be superfluous, since this effect is secured by Articles 48 and 49 of the Charter.”
leaves no room for doubt that, in the opinion of the International Court of
Justice, Chapter VI and Chapter VII resolutions of the Security Council are
equally binding. It is therefore
difficult to avoid the conclusion that
Second reply from the Israeli Embassy
30 December 2002
Dear Dr Morrison
Thank you for your letter of 26 December.
The distinctiveness of Chapter VI and VII resolutions has
long been acknowledged by Palestinian diplomats, and is, indeed, one of their
main complaints. A Palestine Liberation Organization report, entitled “Double
Standards” and published on September 24 2002, pointed out - as you have - that
over the years the UN Security Council has upheld the Palestinians’ right to
The report neglects to explain the very simple reason for
this, however. All Chapter VI resolutions (ones which deal with “Pacific
Resolution of Disputes”) can only be implemented through a process of
negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration between the parties to a dispute. All
UN Security Resolutions concerning
Chapter Seven resolutions however, deal with “Threats to
Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression.” When
We can clearly spend a long time debating the minutiae of the UN Charter. However, there is surely a more pertinent observation to be made; that of the disproportionate amount of time spent debating the State of Israel within the Security Council and the wider UN organisation.
To give but one example of the blatant double standard at
work. On 24 May 2000,
As an occupier of a neighboring country, recognised as a
State that sponsors terrorism, and as a State that grants some of the world’s
most vicious terrorist organisations safe harbor in its territory,
The disproportionate attention accorded to
The answer is abundantly clear. Candidates for the Security
Council are proposed by regional blocs. In the
In a perfect world,
Barring fundamental structural reform of the way in which the UN itself operates, so as to deny Israel’s enemies the ability to hijack and politicise the proceedings of important humanitarian institutions such as the UN Committee on Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel’s treatment at the UN and in other international institutions will continue to be uniquely politically driven.
Public Affairs Spokesman
Third letter by me
15 January 2003
Dear Mr Rosen
Thank you for your letter of 30 December, which I have just received.
“All Chapter VI resolutions (ones which deal with “Pacific Resolution of Disputes”) can only be implemented through a process of negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration between parties to a dispute.”
That is simply not true: Chapter VI resolutions demanding action by more than one state may indeed involve “a process of negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration between parties to a dispute”, but resolutions demanding action from only one state manifestly do not. All the state in question has to do in order to implement the resolution is to take the action demanded.
Therefore, your assertion that “all UN Security
Council Resolutions concerning
example, at any time since resolution 446 was passed in 1979, Israel could have
dismantled existing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and ceased building
others, as demanded by the Security Council in that resolution. There was absolutely nothing to stop
resolution 446 being “self-enforced by
Fourth letter by me
21 April 2003
Dear Mr Rosen
You did not reply to my letter of 15 January. I write again to seek answers to the following questions:
1) Does Israel accept the ruling of the International Court of Justice (Namibia 1971 ICJ 16, paragraph 113) that UN member states are obliged “to accept and carry out” Chapter VI (as well as Chapter VII) Security Council resolutions in accordance with Article 25 of the UN Charter?
2) If not, why not?
If so, does
Thanking you in anticipation.
I have yet to receive a reply from the Israeli Embassy.
23 February 2008