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UNSC: Debate on the Middle East: Kuwait and US Resolutions on the Palestinian Crisis, Tensions in the Council

UNSC 6/1

The Kuwait and US Resolutions

Middle East Question: Israel and Palestine

By: Patrick Liu

Background Information

More Information


  • Statements Before the Vote on Kuwait’s Resolution (S/2018/516)

1. Kuwait

Kuwait summarized the steps that led to the final form of the resolution, including two productive negotiation rounds in which Kuwait had “listened to all amendments to take into account all issues”. Kuwait emphasized that the process was transparent, comprehensive and conclusive.

Ahead of the vote, Kuwait called on members to vote for the resolution to defend international humanitarian law, human rights law, and the protection of civilians. Kuwait stressed the need to hold all violators of international law accountable and cited the international protection mechanism in the resolution as a potential solution.

2.United States

The US argued that Kuwait’s resolution did not take into account everyone’s edits, specifying the absence of “Hamas” in the resolution. The US contended that the resolution was grossly one-sided, and that “everyone who cares about the peace-process should vote against it”.

The US then described the instability that Hamas has created in the Gaza region by diverting humanitarian assistance and openly firing rockets into Israel. The US asserted that Hamas is the underlying cause of conflict, yet “Kuwait does not mention Hamas” and instead places all blame on Israel. This perpetuates biased towards Israel and undermines the UN’s credibility in dealing with the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The US introduced its alternative resolution for those members that recognize Hamas’ terror. This resolution condemned Hamas and contained principles that the Kuwait resolution lacks. The US stressed that if UNSC members voted for Kuwait’s resolution, “you vote that all responsibility is on Israel and none on the Hamas terrorist group.” The US reiterated its position against the resolution and its willingness to use veto power if necessary.

The US concluded by emphasizing that a “necessary precondition of peace is recognition of reality”. The US stressed Hamas’s role in causing terror in Israel and hoped that the UN would not side with terrorists over Israel.

Vote Results for Kuwait Resolution:

10 votes in favor

4 votes abstain (UK, Poland, Netherlands, Ethiopia)

1 vote against (US)

The resolution was vetoed by the United States and was NOT adopted.

Statements After Vote on Kuwait’s Resolution


Kuwait expressed its disappointment that the resolution was vetoed by the US. It stressed the failure of the UN to take into consideration international humanitarian law and human rights law. Kuwait thanked each member, who voted in favor of the resolution, but highlighted the continued deficiency of the UNSC. Kuwait further questioned the UNSC on “why Palestinians must continue to suffer… why the international community is failing to act...why Israel enjoys impunity… and why all these lives are lost while the world is silent.”

2. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom stated its concern for the situation in Gaza, but underscored that it was “regrettable that today’s resolutions are imbalanced or two vague”. The UK stressed that Kuwait’s resolution failed to name the terrorist actors and condemn Hamas. Additionally, the UK found the international protection mechanisms specified by Kuwait to be beyond expectation of the real world. However, the UK lamented that the US resolution was too vague and did not properly address Israel’s responsibilities in the conflict.

The UK would abstain from both votes.

3. France

France urged the UNSC members to set aside differences, and to send a strong message in response to the situation in Gaza. France emphasized that the UNSC cannot remain silent as it is “disastrous for multilateralism and the credibility of the UNSC”. In response to the Kuwait Resolution, France urged the UNSC to overcome the difficulties in the text. Although it is not perfect as it does not neither mention Hamas nor condemn rocket launches into Israel, the resolution was a huge step toward addressing the conflict in Gaza.

4. Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan voted in favor of the Kuwait resolution and called for the protection of civilians. In order to de-escalate the situation, Kuwait recommended a peace dialogue and urged all players to provide confidence building measures.

5. China

China mentioned that two-state solution would bring peace to the region. China voted in favor of the Kuwait resolution, as a measure to protect Palestinian civilians from harm and de-escalate the situation.

6. Poland

Poland asserted that it was not in a position to support the Kuwait text and abstained from the vote. Poland hoped for a text that would have been more balanced than it was in addressing responsibilities for the conflict.

7. Bolivia

In solidarity with Kuwait, Bolivia expressed its disappointment about the US’ decision to veto the resolution. Bolivia argued that the “unbalanced nature of the text” was insufficient for a veto, given the looming issues of protection of civilians and escalation of conflict.

Bolivia described the main threat to the civilians as “Israel’s occupation of Gaza”, and continued to list Israel’s violations against international law.

8. Russian Federation

The Russian Federation voted in favor of Kuwait’s resolution. Russia urged the international community to deal with the humanitarian crisis and the underlying political question in the Israel and Palestine conflict. Russia advocated against the use of force, pushed for the adoption of the two-state solution.


Vote Results for United States’ Resolution:

1 votes in favor (US)

11 votes abstain

3 vote against (Bolivia, Kuwait, Russia)

The resolution did not receive the required votes and was therefore NOT adopted.


  • Statements After the Vote on United State’s Resolution (S/2018/520)

1. France

France stressed that the US Resolution was put forward to a vote without any previous consultations. Therefore, France was unready to support the resolution as a  whole, which prompted it to issue an abstention.

Nevertheless, France expressed its support of certain paragraphs of the resolution regarding its condemnations of Hamas and rocket attacks.

2. Peru

Peru deplored the fact that a compromise could not be achieved between the parties to quell  the Israel and Palestine conflict. Peru abstained from the US vote as they did not have an opportunity to discuss the US proposal.

Although they agreed to some provisions regarding condemning terrorist acts and rocket attacks, Peru ultimately abstained. In contrast, the Kuwait resolution fulfilled many of Peru’s concerns and views.

3. Sweden

Sweden voted in favor of the resolution proposed by Kuwait. Sweden defended the resolution as it addressed international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, condemned all acts of violence, and called for immediate steps to de-escalate and end the conflict in Gaza.

Sweden believed that the language in the US resolution did not properly or fully address the situation in Gaza. Sweden lamented that the proposal did not include language about international humanitarian law or humanitarian access.

4. Netherlands

The Netherlands abstained from both resolutions. The Netherlands regretted that the UNSC was not able to formulate one cohesive response to the recent events in Gaza. Additionally, the Netherlands hoped for greater urgency in protecting civilians on both the Palestinian and the Israel sides. The Kuwait resolution lacked the language to address the needs of all civilians; however, the US resolution did not fully depict the conflict or Israel’s responsibilities’ in the conflict.

5. Ethiopia

Ethiopia accentuated its friendly relationships to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Ethiopia expressed deepest sorrow over the recent developments and lost of lives in Gaza. Ethiopia acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defence, but urged Israel to refrain from violence, and condemned the recent rocket launches from Palestine.

Ethiopia thanked Kuwait for the resolution, but wished it had also explicitly condemned violence by Hamas. Ethiopia felt that this statement was necessary to balance the draft.

6. Kuwait

Kuwait asserted its position against the US Resolution. Responding to the US, Kuwait defended its stance in protecting all civilians “anywhere and at anytime at all”. The US resolution on the other hand is simply for “Israeli authority” as it justifies Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Kuwait lamented that the resolution does not reference protection of Palestinian civilians or the ending of occupation by Israel.

7. Russian Federation

Russia voted against the US Resolution, but it agreed to some provisions in the draft resolution,  recognizing Israel’s right to security. However, the US Resolution was not balanced in addressing the crisis situation in the Middle East.

8. Palestine

Palestine thanked Kuwait and each member who voted in favor of the resolution. Palestine regretted the US’ decision to veto the resolution.  

Palestine cited the severe protection crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians. In accordance with international humanitarian rights law, Palestine stressed the need to hold Israel accountable. Palestine emphasized the need for maximum restraint as well as the establishment of an international protection mechanism. In response to the negative vote, Palestine further highlighed that the UNSC has “rejected the might over right strategy”. Furthermore, Palestine urged states to reject the classification of the crisis as one of terrorism, stating instead that it is an issue of the “denial of people's rights”.

9. Israel

Israel lambasted Hamas for causing the majority of the deaths in the recent conflicts in the Gaza region. Of the names of the dead that the Bolivian representative listed, Israel contended that “the vast majority...over 90%...were Hamas terrorists”. Israel lamented that the Kuwait resolution did not mention Hamas, and expressed its disappoints that the international community chose to turn a blind eye on this reality. Furthermore, Israel accused such supporters of the Kuwait resolution of neglected this terrorist organization that has caused destruction, violence, and instability.

Israel thanked the US for its resolution that addressed this fundamental issue. In juxtaposition, It harshly criticized a Kuwait’s resolution and cited that the resolution only further empowers Hamas.

10. Bolivia

In response to Israel’s statement regarding the supports of Kuwait’s resolution, Bolivia denied Israel’s questioning of Bolivia’s commitment to fighting terrorism. Bolivia asserted that it did not fail to condemn any act of terrorism as per its dutyship to the UNSC.

Bolivia inquired why Israel did not recognize the right of return of the Palestinian people despite international law. Additionally, Bolivia called into question Israel’s statement of Hamas terrorists infiltrating Palestine with respect to the recent death of a Palestinian paramedic.

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UNSC Meeting on Ukraine

UNSC 5/29

The Situation in Ukraine

By: Patrick Liu



  • Intro

     1.Briefing from Under-SG for Political Affairs - Rosemary A. DiCarlo


DiCarlo briefed the UNSC on the situation in Ukraine, focusing on the large portion of the Minsk provisions that remain unimplemented. DiCarlo underscored the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and specified that 3.4 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Finally, due to the continuous quagmire, DiCarlo encouraged member states to alleviate this situation while also ensuring that the Ukrainian’ international humanitarian rights are respected.

    2. Briefing from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief to Ukraine - Amb. Ertugrul Apakan

The OSCE SMM Chief updated the UNSC on challenges to the Minsk Agreements, a deal signed by Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany in 2014 to alleviate the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine. This including difficulties on impact to civilians and longer-term consequences. Apakan urged the need for the parties to “agree on additional measures to make a ceasefire sustainable and irreversible.” Apkan further noted all the weapons violations that have happened ever since certain states reneged on the Minsk agreements. In the face of increased violence in the area, the SSM hopes to facilitate productive and cooperative dialogue on the ground

    3. Briefing from ASG Humanitarian Affairs - Ursula Mueller

The UNOCHA ASG, Ursula Mueller, insisted on the enhanced protection of civilians in the Ukrainian conflict and demanded that international rules and laws be respected by all parties in Ukraine. Mueller reminds the UNSC and the parties involved that “wars have limits,” especially when they affect civilians. In essence, she urged the relevant states to respect the tenets of international humanitarian law (also known as the law of armed conflict).  

Mueller lamented that, despite the greater humanitarian access available, the slow pace of funding to the humanitarian effort has forced many Ukrainians to reach the breaking point which could potentially increase tensions between the relevant parties.  

    4. Briefing from Poland Minister of Foreign Affairs - Jacek Krysztof Czaputowicz

The FM of Poland stood adamantly beside Ukraine, citing the “foolishness of those who underestimate the resiliency” of the Ukrainian people. The FM acknowledged that despite the Ukrainian Minister’s tremendous efforts, the UNSC members, with primary responsibilities to maintain peace and security, must continue to help resolve this conflict. The Poland FM emphasized this responsibility for both elected and permanent members. On the humanitarian front, the FM cited that the highest price in Ukraine “is to the civilians”. The FM uged Russia to allow greater international humanitarian aid into the affected regions, to restore freedoms, and to cease human rights violations.

The FM addressed Russia’s “illegal annexation of Crimea”, and stressed that it broke basic principles of international law, referencing the recent international law open debate. The FM urged Russia to admit to these blatant violations. The FM noted the continued intense military situation in Eastern Ukraine, and the violations to the Minsk agreement with regards to regular use of heavy weapons. The FM denounced Russia’s actions that undermine peace efforts, including the Malaysia Airlines plane that Russia shot down in 2014, and demanded that Russia utilize its influence to secure a sustainable cease fire.

The FM urged the UNSC to establish a peacekeeping mission, select a “special envoy to access the situation”, and dedicate efforts to easing tensions and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine.


  • Statements from the P-5 members


    1. United States

The United States referenced the international law open debate. As a direct violation of sovereignty of the UN Charter of one state by another, the UNSC was designed to address this flagrant conduct. The US stated that “Russia insults our intelligence by saying [the Ukrainian conflict] is a homegrown conflict.” Instead, the US asserted the culpability of Russia as the driving force of the Ukrainian conflict, as well as its role in the downing of MH17. Russia is in Ukraine to control the country for its own benefit, not to protect the civilians. Because of Russia’s flagrant behavior in the Ukrainian crisis, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia. Consequently, during the debate, the U.S. belabored upon its sanctions against Russia.

2.United Kingdom

Due to of the increasingly volatile and dangerous situation in Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian situation and environmental damage mandate, the UK requested the UNSC to place the situation onto the UNSC’s agenda. Additionally,The UK called for all parties to respect the laws of war (law of armed conflict), and urged all parties to recommit to the ceasefire. The UK also demanded that Russia should adhere fundamental international rules, especially with reference to  its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Concerning the downing of MH17, the UK stressed that Russia is undoubtedly responsible and must accept responsibility. If Russia really cares about the people in Donbass, “[it] should stop the conflict that [it] started.”

3. Joint Statement France and Germany-will continue in the am

On behalf of both France and Germany, France emphasized that the Ukrainian situation is “not a frozen conflict” and parties must implement commitments undertook by the Minsk agreements. In regards to the security situation, France condemned the violations of ceasefire, particularly Russia’s violations, and hoped for an independent working team to investigate these violations. France insisted that the international community provide greater facilitation of humanitarian access and the accessibility of basic living necessities such as food, water, and shelter. France noted that a long-term resolution will depend on political and economic outcomes, not military. France restated their continued support for Ukraine, and hoped for a lasting peace throughout the European Continent.

            4.Russian Federation - (see below)

            5. China

China called on the ceasefire from all parties in order to stay on course for a political settlement in E. Ukraine. Because of the legitimate interests of diverse regional populations as well as the “complexities” of the conflict parties, China iterated that the Minsk agreement is the only path forward. In implementing the resolutions of the Minsk Agreement, China hoped for a comprehensive lasting peace and harmony through dialogue.


  • Statements from the Non P-5 members


    1. Europe: Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs - Stef Blok

The FM of the Netherlands emphasized the toll of the conflict on young Ukrainians and civilians, noting that the conflict has also put the “international rule book in jeopardy”. Furthermore, the FM focused on the escalation of the conflict leading to the downing of MH17 that killed 193 Dutch citizens as well as citizens from across the world. The Netherlands stressed that they will not rest “until justice is achieved” and Russia is held accountable for the downing. In order to establish truths and accountability, “no state has the right to remain silent”. With broad support from NATO, Australia, and European partners, the Netherlands demanded that Russia accept responsibility and work to ending the Ukrainian conflict.

           2.Latin America

Bolivia called on the parties involved to abide by the principles of the UN and international humanitarian law. Specifically, Bolivia demanded the protection of civilians in the increasingly dangerous conflict zones.Bolivia lamented the impact on “regional stability” from the ongoing conflict in E. Ukraine. Bolivia and Peru both condemned the use of antipersonnel mines and the downing of MH17.

            3. Central Asia

Kazakhstan urged for the overall disengagement of parties in the conflict of Ukraine. Moreover, Kazakhstan called for safe, unhindered access for monitors, as well as free access of humanitarian assistance to the conflict zones.

           4. Middle East

Kuwait expressed its concerns about the renewed fighting in Eastern Ukraine and urged states to implement the Minsk agreements. Kuwait further underlined the humanitarian aspects of the situation and condemned the illegal shelling that risks many civilians’ lives. Kuwait hoped that the parties will find a peaceful solution in line with the UNSC resolutions and the Minsk agreements.

            5. Africa

Equatorial Guinea emphasized the need for the parties involved to cooperate with the OSCE in order to make progress. In upholding the Minsk agreements, Equatorial Guinea urged parties to have an immediate ceasefire, facilitate safe access of humanitarian aid, and work to improve living conditions of civilians.

Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire similarly shared these concerns. Ethiopia addressed the downing of MH17 and urged the cooperation of all states and actors to investigate this “worst crime”. Côte d’Ivoire also stressed the devastation to civilian life and infrastructure in the absence of progress of implementation of the Minsk agreement.


  • Statement from Parties Involved


    1. Russian Federation

The Russian Federation took its time to respond to the points articulated by the rest of the UNSC: “I listened very carefully to my colleagues and so now you listen to me.” Russia described the conflict in Ukraine as not a “revolution of dignity”, but a revolution to overthrow power and take control. Russia defined the rhetoric as “pathetic expressions” from “people who are selling hot air”. Russia called out other UNSC members for falling into the trap of believing the propaganda from the “peace-loving” Ukraine. Russia reiterated that it is impossible to define an aggressor as Russia is not in a state of war with anyone, citing the movement of people across borders, the activity of business, and the absence of hostilities.

Russia proceeded to ask the UNSC if “Ukrainians are better off today after the revolution?”, despite the UNSC’s “self-imposed isolation from what is happening in Ukraine”. Russia described the hostilities being poured by authorities in Kiev, and the propaganda being spread by Ukrainian mass media that the UNSC are “unaware of”. Russia reported the recent killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko as yet another piece of evidence of hostility in Ukraine. Furthermore, Russia continued to mention sources of Ukrainian lawlessness, accusing the UN of “closing their eyes from it”. Russia emphasized this double standard of Ukrainian violence and lies presented as Russian slander and aggression.

Concerning the situation in Crimea, Russia highlighted that the people in Crimea have autonomy to move away from the “chaotic” Ukraine and honor their own heros instead of the ones honored by Kiev. Russia adamantly asserted that there have been no human rights violations in Crimea and no demand from the region to return to Kiev authority.

Afterwards, Russia went on a diatribe and accused UNSC members of purposefully encouraging instability along Russia’s borders. Russia asked the UNSC members if they truly understood the contents of the Minsk agreements or how to implement their articles. Russia urged the UNSC to refrain from rhetoric that impedes resolution of the crisis.

Russia shifted the blame onto Ukraine for shirking its responsibilities, and emphasized that the sequentiality of the agreements meant that ceasefire was only achievable after Ukraine implemented its portion of the Minsk agreements.

Turning toward the issue of MH17, Russia mourned the event but stressed that it was not planning on discussing the issue “because it not being relevant to the topic at hand today”. Russia accused the joint-investigation team of rushing the process, and noted that “some delegations who did not read it carefully decided to use it as anti-Russian sentiment”. Russia reasserted its role in demanding an investigation after the downing of MH17 and cooperating with the investigation by providing radio data. However, Russia expressed its frustration with the failure to account for the possibility of the missile originating from other territories, and insisted on a credible, true investigation in which Russia would be a fully fledged participant.

             Request of Netherlands

The FM of the Netherlands requested to interject after the statement from the Russian Federation. The FM expressed his disappointment of Russia’s continued efforts to discredit the results of the joint investigation team, and to spread impossible alternative theories to the downing of MH17. The FM accused Russia of denying irrefutable evidence, and failing to seriously try to achieve justice. The FM noted the veto exercised by Russia against the establishment of a tribunal for this case. The FM of the Netherlands stated the need for Russia to enter bilateral talks with Netherlands to determine their responsibility of the downing of MH17.

            2. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine - Pavlo Klimkin

Responding to Russia’s allegations against Ukraine, the FM of Ukraine illustrated the situation that led to Russia’s invasion, and the culpability of Russia in the downing of MH17. The FM of Ukraine alluded to Russia’s denial of conflict and urged the international community to reject Russia’s false view. The FM reaffirmed Ukraine’s commitment to the Minsk agreements and urged Russia to do the same. The FM cited the violations of international humanitarian law in the occupation of Crimea, and noted that “Russia’s list of violations is practically endless”. The FM of Ukraine urged Russia to stop this illegal occupation.

Moreover, the FM stressed Ukraine’s gratefulness for the international humanitarian assistance that it has been receiving, and hoped for a fully funded effort to continue to make a difference.

The FM highlighted its gratitude for the messages of solidarity from many members of the UNSC. The FM also expressed his condolences for the Russian reporter that was killed, but noted that he left Russia after threats to his family. Babchenko was considered an enemy to Moscow, and the FM commented on the history of political assassinations by Moscow.

            3. Russian Federation

In response to Ukraine’s statement, the Russian Federation sarcastically stated that it was “touched by Ukraine’s concern for Crimea”. However, Russia ensured Ukraine not to worry as the Crimean people are quite happy in their current situation. Russia again mentioned the purpose of the meeting to discuss Ukraine, and not Crimea as Crimea is a part of Russia.    

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Women and the Origins of the UN

Women and the Origins of the UN: A Southern Legacy


Lizzie McGowan

Opening Remarks

Moderators Monica Grayley, Chief-Editor of the UN News Multimedia  and Mauro Vieira, Permanent Representative of Brazil praised the profound work of Southern women during the early years of the UN. These women defied gender norms in their respective cultures paved the way for female visibility within affairs. The declaration of human rights and UN charters were revolutionary to the foundations of international law, and if it had not been for the contributions of women, these mandates might not be as inclusive in terms of gender equality. Unfortunately, men are credited with founding of the UN and little is known or celebrated about the roles of women.

Contrary to popular belief, many women contributed to the development of the UN, but only four were able to sign the charter. These four women were: Zoologist Dr. Bertha Lutz of Brazil, diplomat, Minerva Bernardino of the Dominican Republic, activist Wu yi Fang of China, and activist Virginia Gildersleeve of the United States. The legacy of these women illustrates how important it is to have women in leadership roles, international relations, and how their input has been crucial to the sustainability and inclusivity of the UN.

Part 1: Reassessing the Historical Contributions of Women at the Un Charter

Ms. Elise Deitrickson, a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)’s  Center of International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD)  said the “UN charter represents us all” and is considered the constitution of the world. More importantly, it was the first international agreement to recognize women’s rights as a fundamental part of human rights. Throughout the development of the UN Charter, women from the Global South, in addition to women from the Global North were considered extreme by their male counterparts for strongly advocating for the inclusion of women. These women were not afraid to go against the grain and understood the urgency of having an internationally binding document that provided equality for men and women.

If it had not been for the presence of these women “demanding a seat at the table” in the drafting process, the charter would contain no language defending women's rights. A hallmark achievement in the charter is Article 8, which states that women must have equal participation in the UN. The existence of this article would not have been possiblem if it had not been for Latin American female delegates.

Fatima Sator, another research associate at SOAS’ CISD, said Latin American women played a crucial role in international women’s rights. She cited that her passion for gender equality in conjunction with her interest in international studies prompted her to research the role women played in founding the UN. Her research indicated the importance of  remarkable women from particular Latin American. She concluded that, “If it had not been for Latin American women, we can question where gender inequality would be today.” Therefore, Latin American female delegates helped the UN Charter to provide a foundation for international gender equality norms.

Sator further remarked that even though these women were ridiculed, they knew the importance of setting a powerful precedent in international law. Albeit, much progress has been made, there is still work to do. Currently, no country can claim full gender equality. To build on the work of the women of the south, we should challenge ourselves to learn about the work of feminist throughout the world and emulate their fortitude to be change agents.

Dr. Rebecca Adami, a senior lecturer at Stockholm University, explained how Latin women in the UN formed a separatists commission focused on implementing women’s rights into the charter. Since they were in a male dominated environment, their group experienced gender discrimination to impede their progress. For example, they were intentional delays in having their documents translated into their language. Nevertheless, they continued to press their agenda of legal and social improvements for women in the charter even though they were outnumbered by men.

Interestingly enough, Eleanor Roosevelt declined to participate in their committee and did not support their efforts to have language in the charter specifically stating “women” being equal to men. Instead, she sided with many of the male delegates by wanting to only use “men.”  Though they faced a daunting battle, they successfully implemented these changes.

Part II: The Global South as a Gender Trailblazer

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan mentioned that Pakistani women worked tirelessly to become the custodians of human rights. These women persevered through cultural adversity in the Islamic world to ensure women were included in the discourse on social and legal inclusion. Advocating for women’s rights in a male dominated society in conjunction with the influence of religious rules meant the few women leadership were faced with obstacles that were deeply woven into their society. However, in making significant strides in achieving gender equality, they were able to be trailblazers and create new societal norms. In breaking the glass ceiling, they demonstrated the value of women in leadership roles. However, today the work of these women is under threat from extreme nationalism, far right politics, and racism. It is just as important today as it was during the drafting of the UN charter to stop the erasure of gender equality and uphold Article 8.

Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, the Permanent Representative of India to the UN mentioned  women from India, who made large contributions to the UN foundational documents who played active roles in decolonizing the country. Not only did indian women changed the narrative on the right to development, economic, social, and cultural rights within their country, they also made a significant impact internationally on these issues. The current narrative of gender equality is focused on the contribution from women of the global north and does not mention the pivotal role of women in developing countries.

An example of a pioneering woman from the south was Viyjaya Lakshimi Pandit of India. She was the first female president of the UN general assembly in 1953. This groundbreaking achievement was the beginning of a strong legacy of southern leadership within the UN. To date, there have been 3 female general assembly presidents, all from the global south.

Ambassador Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, the Permanent Representative of Ghana explained that  prominent women from Ghana, defied the odds of colonialism and patriarchy immensely, contributed to international women's rights issues. She cited the work of justice Annie Ruth Jiaggie, a Ghanaian lawyer, judge, and women’s rights activist.  Justice Jiaggie’s work within the UN from 1962-1996 provided a voice for African women in the UN. From 1962- 1972, she served on the UN commission of the status of women and was a “driving force” in shaping its programs. The contributions of African women should inspire younger generation to continue to push for gender equality regardless of the circumstances they face.

Ambassador Maria Emma Mejia Velez, the Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN argued that women were always present in the most important moments at the UN and continues to make significant efforts to end gender equality. There was a cultural fight that took place to have recognition among the vast majority of male delegates. Women were expected to get coffee and perform menial tasks, while the men were the primary decision makers. Though they faced these obstacles, they proved themselves to be competent decision makers by successfully implementing the inclusion of women in the charter. Their influence made way for women in the future gain critical leadership roles within the UN. As a result, they helped to diminish the pervasive patriarchal culture in international relations.  

Ambassador Maria Emma Mejia Velez noted that to continue pushing for women's empowerment, there must be emphasis on achieving sustainable development goal (SDG) five. This goal aims to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls, will be a key factor in making that difference for global gender inequality.  With the current international climate, it is important that women in the UN ensure that the progress gained in the achievements of the southern women are not lost.

Zandidi Bingu spoke on behalf of Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila, the Permanent Representative of South Africa and said the women from the south have held important positions at the UN. In this capacity, they have made tremendous contributions to ending the aids epidemic. Additionally, they have worked to domesticized the norms of gender equality and symbiotically work with the UN.

Part III: Importance of Women from the South

Koki Gignon (Kenya), Vice Chair of the CSW’s Commission  Bureau said Kenya was a pioneer in sending female diplomats to the UN in the 1960s. When women's narratives are shared with young female students from the south, it will be a great source of inspiration.

Anita Nayer, the Director of “Regions Refocus”, underscored that it is important that we learn from our past to be prepared for our future. To implement this approach, she recommended three items: 1. reclaim the agency and analysis of south feminists by looking at how their contributions shaped the legacy of gender rights, 2. recognize the value of south feminists analysis to ongoing issues affecting gender equality, and 3. integrate governmental and feminists positions with integrity and with agency. The amalgam of these recommendations will ensure the involvement of women in geopolitical sphere and demonstrate the value of the feminists perspective in policy development.

Closing Remarks

Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the  Chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary-General, closed by highlighting the important role southern women have played in the development and implementation of pioneering resolutions throughout the history of the UN.

She further remarked that “we must also remember our history.” These groundbreaking resolutions were aimed at gender equality and establishing mechanisms to facilitate peace. The contributions of southern feminists to the gender equality struggle serve as a blueprint for feminists to move forward in protecting their accomplishments and continuing work as activists.

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Side Event: Protecting Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

Side Event: Protecting Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

Following the UNSC debate on the protection of civilians, the International Network on Explosive Weapons,Permanent Missions of Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Mozambique hosted a panel discussion on protecting civilians from the effects of explosive weapons. Ambassador Jan Kickert provided the introductory remarks. Ms. Anna de Courcy Wheeler of Article 36; Ms. Veronique Christory of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Ambassador Antonia Fumende of Mozambique, and Ms. Sahr Muhammedally, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) were the panelists.

Ambassador Kickert of Austria briefed the audience on the severity of civilians being massacred by explosive weapons in urban areas. The indiscriminate nature of the bombing has created a startling humanitarian crisis that must urgently be addressed if there is to be an end to the senseless killings. International law is not implemented in this regard and as a result, innocent lives are lost and no accountability is taken. To stop the targeting of civilians, there must be change in military policy and practice. Implementing these new guidelines will help ensure that urban areas are not targeted and normalize protecting civilians.

Ms. Anna de Courcy Wheeler underscored that the 92% of war casualties being civilians. Unfortunately, this number is expected to worsen if change is not made in how the international community approaches this subject. She further cited that between 60-70 countries experience violence via explosives. For instance, in Mosul, Iraq, 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of explosives.

Drawing upon her example, one could extrapolate that military culture must change because most harm occurs when militaries choose a target in a heavily populated area. The use of aircraft bombs, IED’s, and rocket propelled grenades are all examples of the bombs used to kill people in urban areas. For those not directly hit by bombs, shrapnel and getting hit with large objects also contribute to the death toll. Under these circumstances, the conditions are ripe for civilians to develop PTSD. As the situation continues to deteriorate, it more important than ever to provide aid and rehabilitation to survivors of the bombings and ensure that aid workers are able to remain in affected areas without fear of indiscriminate targeting.

Ms Veronique Christory of the ICRC gave a vivid description of the environmental and infrastructure damage of urban bombing. She highlighted that this trend is rapidly growing in areas of conflict and has become the new normal in war. The direct effect of indiscriminate bombing is immediate loss of life and infrastructure. However, very little is mentioned about the indirect effects of explosive devices. The indirect effect of bombs are the contaminated water and food, damage to access of vital services, and denial of access to humanitarian aid. Tainted food and water contributes to the spread of serious illnesses  and malnutrition. The increased numbers of sick people is made worse by the lack of infrastructure and medical workers to treat them. These examples of indirect effects illustrate that bombings adversely affect civilians both immediately following the bombing and in the long term as well.

Ambassador Antonia Fumende of Mozambique, made it very clear that his country is very concerned about explosive weapons and referenced the issues they have faced in managing  them. Since most most people live in urban areas, it is of utmost importance that military activities do not take place there. He cited an incident in his country where the improper management of stored weapons resulted in many innocent lives being lost. Unfortunately the bombs at the facility accidentally exploded killed civilians. This cautionary tale proves that explosive devices are serious weapons that must be regulated.

Ms. Sahr Muhammedally of CIVIC offered a solution as to what can be done to fix indiscriminate targeting of civilians. She suggested that civilian and military leadership can help this problem in conjunction with policies, tools, and training. For tools, there should be assessments of civilian harm and a blueprint as to how the info will be analyzed to change policies. Proper training will empower forces to react in different situations, equip them to use appropriate weapons, and know how to react when indirect fire is used. All things considered, weapons manufacturers should be pressed by governments to make better weapons suitable for use in urban areas. Preferably war should occur in non-populated areas because the current explosive devices are designed to for those environments. But since the urbanization of war is growing, policy decisions on explosives must be made to address this trend.

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UNSC Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

By: Patrick Liu and Lizzie Mcgowan

Concept Note:


1. Intro 

A. Briefing by Secretary-General representative, Antonio Guterres


The SG briefed the UNSC on the current situation of civilians in conflict, noting the endless “displacement, disappearances, and destruction of civilian infrastructure.” He urged states to enforce respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law. He further outlined an implementation plan for national policy frameworks to protect civilians in conflict. The SG also mentioned “codes of conduct for state and non-state actors” and other mechanisms to end impunity on violations to civilians in conflict. In closing, the SG connected the protection of civilians to the prospect of lasting profound peace.

B. Briefing from Director General of ICRC, Yves Daccord

Yves Daccord briefed the council on the issue from a lens of international humanitarian law. He expressed his concern for the lack of protection of civilians despite the “rhetoric” on the issue. Furthermore, the respect for the principle of humanity falls on the “shoulders of states.” Daccord advised a banning of certain heavily destructive and “indiscriminately affecting” weapons and a review of military doctrines to ensure that medical facilities and workers are protected in conflict zones. Daccord addressed the situation in detention centers, and the persistence of missing persons in conflict. Daccord concluded his brief by providing a view of optimism with respect to international humanitarian law. With a positive focus on IHL, Daccord emphasized the responsibility for states to uphold IHL and ensure “partners and proxies” do so as well.

C. Briefing from Civil Society Representative, Hanaa Edwar

Hanaa Edwar, an Iraqi women’s advocate, noted the need for early warning mechanisms for violations of international humanitarian law. In addition to urging the protection of the “fellow human beings”, Edwar contended that “women’s rights to full participation must also be respected.”

D. Briefing by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Jacek Czaputowicz

The FM of Poland cited “a global protection crisis” as addressed in the SG’s report. In addressing this issue, the FM stressed an “inclusive peace process” focusing on prevention, protection, and accountability. Specifically, the FM focused on the legal frameworks for landmines and chemical weapons that must achieve universal support by states. In regards to accountability, the FM urged “more frequent” use of the ICC to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and put an end to impunity on the issue.

2. Statements from the P-5 members

A. United States

The US cited the UNSC’s responsibility and obligation to insist on respect for international humanitarian law. The UNSC should also be honest and clear and apply “meaningful pressure” against states that violate IHL standards. Moreover,The US urged the development of “credible national accountability mechanisms” to promote prosecutions of crimes against humanity at the national level.

B. United Kingdom

The UK addressed the “core mandate” of the UNSC in protecting civilians globally, referencing the “indiscriminate shelling” in and around Donetsk in Ukraine and the civilian threats in Syria and South Sudan. Focusing on peacekeeping operations, the UK supported the strengthening of its human rights components. Lastly, the UK emphasized the need to end the climate of impunity.

C. France

France reiterated the UNSC’s commitment to protect civilians against harm and danger. France especially emphasized the “operational aspects” of civilian protection. However in the face of eminent danger, France cited that if peacekeepers can’t protect themselves, then “they won’t likely be able to protect others.” France further urged states to protect medical staff, humanitarian personnel, journalists, and detainees.

D.Russian Federation

Russia cited “traditional spiritual and moral values” that should allow the UNSC to avoid difference of opinion on protection. However, Russia lambasted the  UNSC for “politicizing” core humanitarian obligations. Russia continued its argument by identifying the mis-steps taken by the UNSC through the “primitive judgments” that had assigned blame based on flawed information. Russia specifically underscored that the use of any means to protect civilians, “especially the use of force can only be possible with support of the UNSC.”

E. China

China centered its statement on the “root causes” of conflict as the best preventative strategy in protecting civilians. “Political solutions will spare civilians from harm” expressed China.

China further maintained that international protection efforts must not supersede the primary protection responsibilities and prerogatives of states. Turning to UN peace operations, China commended the work of humanitarian workers, but it insisted that they must “remain neutral” and respect the sovereignty of the affected state.

3. Statements from the Non P-5 members

A. European States (Netherlands, Sweden, Ukraine, Switzerland, Ireland and the Holy See)

In regards to the protection of civilians, the Netherlands focused its discussion focused on how food insecurity is an act of war. This association between food insecurity and acts of war is being incorporated into the Netherland’s International Crimes Act.  

The Netherlands explained 5.4 million people were without food in South Sudan. Food insecurity is a major source of conflict due to starvation being used as a war tactic. Consequently, this has created a legacy of starvation and malnutrition that has affected generations of people, which has in turn stifled development.

Since the Netherlands considers food insecurity to be an act of war, the Netherlands underscored that it  is of utmost importance for the UNSC to find a solution to this problem and must prosecute the actors who have committed these atrocities.  

Switzerland contended that protection of civilians is a key aspect of security. The frequency in attacks on medical facilities and schools was appalling and it is up to the UNSC to utilize its resources to stop it. There should also be more attention paid to the continuing trend of urbanization of conflicts and the utilization of starvation as a war tactic. To end starvation as a war tactic, Switzerland presented five key priorities: 1.enhance respect for international humanitarian law, 2.accountability for violation of international humanitarian law, 3. implementation of 2286 on the protection of healthcare workers, and 4.  dedicate special attention to protecting civilians, 5. Support peacekeeping missions by the UN and NGOs.

Sweden said that international human rights law is sufficient to aid civilians in armed conflict if implemented. There should also be more attention paid to women and children in relation to how to best serve their needs during conflicts. This can be done if the UNSC resolution 2286 is applied. In the same fashion, Ukraine called for more accountability and protection of innocent civilians in conflict. They noted they were still reeling from the effects of Russian aggression on civilians populations. If some member states, especially one on the permanent council, continued to “turn a blind eye” to the mandates of the ICJ, there would be no hope in reducing civilian casualties. Ireland said that the use of explosive weapons in civilian areas indiscriminately was a serious cause for concern. To end the use of explosives, there should be calls for more accountability and reverence for international humanitarian law. The Holy See said that attacks against health facilities and aid works were serious destabilizing factors affecting war torn regions. Since these are serious violations of International and humanitarian law, there should be more done to prevent war and find peaceful solutions to political disputes.

B. Latin America

Bolivia began their statements by highlighting the death toll of the “March of Return” and how it just one of many examples of civilians being slaughtered in war. They cited that over 50 million civilians have been targeted by armed conflict in urban areas. It is imperative the international community do everything within its power to protect civilians and health care workers on the front lines of these battles. Peru shared similar sentiments and asserted that rampant impunity was a major source of inaction in protecting civilians and aid workers. Since all states are supposed to uphold international law, there should be more accountability and preventative measures taken.

Panama, spoke on behalf of the Human security network and expressed similar sentiments with their Latin American counterparts. Their most important priority is the protection of civilians, in addition to working with the UNSC. In order to improve security for them in the line of fire, traditional security measures must be complimented with a comprehensive approach based on the needs of the people to prevent conflict. Enforcing the rule of law in conjunction with the UNSC’s support of NGOs and IGOs, can result in better protecting civilians.

C. Central Asia

Kazakhstan noted that 75% of all war victims were civilians. Therefore, the UNSC should have three protection priorities, compliance with the IHL, protection of civilians, and provide technical and financial support for NGO and IGOs on the ground. The role of peacekeeping operations is an important component in supporting protection priorities and Kazakhstan is willing to support these efforts politically. Member states must do more to  address the needs of vulnerable groups is most important, capacity build, and encourage respecting the rule of law.

D.Middle East (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Qatar)

Kuwait called upon the international community to improve its efforts in protecting civilians during conflict and noted a connection between conflict and displaced persons. For sustainable peace to thrive, the root causes of the conflict must be addressed. Highlighting the importance of of protecting humanitarian aid works, he mentioned the violence affecting civilians in Syria. Saudi Arabia expressed similar views and pointed to the humanitarian disaster on the Gaza strip as an example of innocent civilians being massacred. They also addressed the situation in Yemen and noted they, in conjunction with other partners, were planning on saving the Yemeni people.

Iraq cited their compliance with humanitarian law and its countries successful military efforts in regaining territories. Further, Iraq has made significant gains to efforts to protect their civilians and provide rehabilitation services to former child ISIS recruits. Qatar stressed that value of accountability and judicial instruments to improve prospects of justice in regards to the most serious crimes of war and against civilian infrastructure. They also reiterated the need to keep journalists safe because they an important role in accountability and investigating the events on the ground.

E. African States (Equatorial Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Ghana)

Equatorial Guinea mentioned the “growing vulnerability of civilians” as a factor in reducing positive benefits of resilience building efforts. Further, they called for an end to the strategic use of hunger as a war tactic. Attribution for these atrocities are the fiscal and climate crisis that are heightened by the chronic vulnerabilities of civilian various populations. With this in mind, there should never be politicization the protection of civilians. Cote d’Ivoire expressed similar views by reflected the the horrors of their post election conflict. From these experiences, they understand the importance of maintaining peace and the high value of protecting civilians. Therefore, it is important that all stakeholders emphasize international standards of protection.

Ethiopia harped on how the protection of civilians continues to be a problem for the global community and the UNSC. Since asymmetric warfare continues to be a problem the need for the implementation of internal law must become a priority. Comparatively, Rwanda  noted that peacekeeping and protection of civilians should remain a top priority for the UNSC. Unarmed peacekeepers have played an important role in keeping civilians safe. She then cited Rwanda’s tragic history as a reminder that the UN is charged with responsibility to protect the innocent and make effective contributions to peacekeeping efforts. Ghana made light of limited UN success in preventing mass casualties within civilian populations. To remedy these kinds of atrocities, there must be full compliance with international law and comprehensive investigations of abuse.


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