(Editors’ Note: This is the latest in Just Security’s weekly series keeping readers up to date on developments at the United Nations at the intersection of national security, human rights, and the rule of law.)
General Assembly Approves Gaza Ceasefire Resolution
On Tuesday, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Gaza conflict, demanding an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” the release of all hostages, and humanitarian access. It passed with 153 Member States voting in favor, 23 abstaining, and 10 voting against, including the United States.
Prior to the resolution, Austria and the United States offered separate amendments condemning Hamas, but neither measure gained the necessary two-thirds majority. The General Assembly will resume the emergency session on Friday afternoon.
Last Friday, the United States blocked a Security Council resolution that demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Among other concerns, U.S. representative Robert Wood said that the resolution failed to acknowledge Israel’s right to self-defense in accordance with international law. Earlier in the week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres sent a letter invoking Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which allows him to inform the Security Council of “any issue that may aggravate existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Note: Readers may be interested in our Gaza coverage.
Nations at COP28 Agree to Move Away From Fossil Fuels
Diplomats from nearly 200 countries approved a global pact to close the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) on Wednesday. The agreement explicitly calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels.”
European leaders and many of the nations most vulnerable to climate-fueled disasters have urged for a complete “phaseout” of fossil fuels. But that proposal faced intense pushback from major oil exporters like Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as rapidly developing countries including India and Nigeria.
In the end, negotiators struck a compromise: The new deal calls on countries to accelerate a global shift away from fossil fuels this decade in a “just, orderly and equitable manner,” and to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere entirely by midcentury.
Note: Readers may be interested in our tracker of COP28-related news.
“Hunger Catastrophe” in Sudan
In a new alert, the World Food Programme (WFP) is warning that Sudan is experiencing the worst hunger level ever recorded despite the current harvest season, which runs from October through February. Without a significant increase in assistance by the start of the lean season next May, the WFP indicated that conflict hotspots such as the capital Khartoum, the Darfur regions, and the Kordofan regions could experience “catastrophic hunger.”
In April, clashes erupted between the rival Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. The fighting has spread outside the capital, killing over 10,000 people, displacing another 6.5 million, and severely degraded the country’s healthcare system.
On Tuesday, Sudan’s U.N. representative, Al-Harith Idriss Al-Harith Mohamed, called on the Security Council to “impose an arms and material transport embargo against rebel forces” and “lift sanctions on the government forces,” according to a U.N. press release.
Note: Readers may be interested in our Sudan-related coverage.
U.S. Seeks to Mobilize on “AI for Good”
The United States circulated a draft General Assembly resolution on Wednesday in an effort to mobilize States to support “AI for good and for all,” according to U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, as reported by Ryan Heath in Axios. The U.S. is pushing all Member States to explicitly affirm that artificial intelligence (AI) will be deployed consistent with the U.N.’s founding documents – the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The resolution condemns any misuse of AI that undermines peace and human rights and says this applies through the entire “life cycle” of an AI system.
It also commits Member States to promote “responsible and inclusive design, development, deployment, and use” of AI towards global challenges such as ending hunger and providing clean and affordable energy. The resolution binds governments to support “multi-stakeholder” governance of AI, including enabling third-party feedback on AI systems and their safety and cybersecurity vulnerabilities and providing “human decision-making alternatives for those adversely impacted” by a given AI system. Furthermore, the resolution encourages large tech companies and wealthy countries to fund AI development in the Global South.
Note: Readers may be interested in our AI coverage.