UN meeting 'part of efforts to isolate Russia'
28 February 2022
On the UN Security Council calling an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on Ukraine under the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution
Professor Dominik Zaum, Professor of Governance, Conflict and Security at the University of Reading, said:
"Western states do not have a majority in the General Assembly, and it has often been critical of US and Western policies and positions. Western states have therefore been reluctant to move issues from the Security Council to the General Assembly’s agenda - hence the 40-year hiatus.
"The willingness to use the procedure now indicates that the US and European states clearly feel that there will be a very clear majority expressing their opposition to the invasion, and Russia will be isolated internationally.
"It is part of a wider effort to create a clear international narrative that Russia is an unprovoked aggressor, and that its invasion lacks any legitimacy.
"A resolution clearly condemning the invasion, which is supported by a large majority of states, will provide legitimacy to the sanctions imposed by countries bilaterally on Russia, and for their support for Ukraine. A resolution calling for negotiations could increase the pressure on both sides to come to the table.
"It will not provide a different legal basis for state actions, and is unlikely to have an immediate effect on the conflict dynamics on the ground."
- The 'Uniting for Peace' procedure has not been invoked by the Security Council for over 40 years. The last time the Council called an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly was in February 1980, over the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. At that meeting, the overwhelming majority of states voted in favour of a resolution deploring the intervention and calling for a withdrawal of Soviet troops.
- Normally, issues of war and conflict are the remit of the UN Security Council. The 'Uniting For Peace' procedure allows the Council to pass a matter of peace and security to an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, when the Council is deadlocked on the issue (because of the veto). The decision to move an issue to the General Assembly for consideration is not subject to the veto.
- The procedure was pioneered in 1950, to overcome the deadlock in the Council over the war in Korea. It has been used 10 times in the past.
- The Uniting for Peace resolution is a political instrument, not legal instrument. An Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly cannot assume the Security Council’s powers: it cannot authorise the use of force, or mandate sanctions.