Evaluating the persisting relevance of the Uniting for Peace resolution for the maintenance of international peace and security: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Security Council Resolution 2623 (2022)

Graham Melling*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Summary: This article will evaluate the question of the persisting relevance of the Uniting for Peace resolution (General Assembly resolution 377 A (V) (3 November 1950)) (henceforth U4P) to facilitating the United Nations’ role in the maintenance of international peace and security and responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, February 2022. The United Nations’ principal organ tasked with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security is the United Nations Security Council. Where the Security is unable to fulfil this responsibility due to the exercise of the veto by one of its permanent members it may have recourse to the U4P resolution. In effect U4P enables the Security Council to side-step the restriction of the veto and, through a procedural mechanism, refer the matter to the General Assembly to convene an Emergency Special Session for its consideration. Alternatively, the General Assembly can initiate the procedure under the U4P resolution where the Security Council fails to take action. The Security Council’s utilisation of the U4P procedure in Security Council resolution 2623 (2022) in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was only the eighth occasion since U4P’s conception in 1950 by the General Assembly. Moreover, the last time the SC resorted to U4P was in 1982. The General Assembly has invoked U4P on at least four occasions since 1997. Under U4P the General Assembly has the power to recommend measures that can be taken for the purposes of the maintenance of international peace and security. However, the power of recommendation that the General Assembly can exercise under U4P are powers derived from the United Nation’s Charter and not from the U4P resolution. Other than introducing the concept of ‘emergency special sessions’, the U4P resolution does not establish a procedural mechanism not already provided for in the UN Charter. Therefore, in responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the General Assembly has the power to make recommendations with or without reference to the U4P resolution. In this article it will be argued that U4P does not give the General Assembly powers it does not already have under the Charter. It is clear from Resolution 377A (V) that a key premise for the resort to U4P is to empower the General Assembly to take ‘collective measures’ for the maintenance of international peace and security in lieu of the Security Council being able to do so due to the casting of the veto by one of the permanent members. However, U4P is not an independent source of the Assembly’s powers, it is merely an aspect of its practice and the General Assembly has the power to make such a recommendation for ‘collective measures’ in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by virtue of the UN Charter, with or without reference to the U4P resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-272
Number of pages17
JournalInternational and Comparative Law Review
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

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