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.

Security Council Refers Palestine’s Bid for UN Membership to Committee

Following last week’s request by the Palestinian Authority to reopen its 2011 application for U.N. membership, the current President of the Security Council, Malta, referred the application for committee consideration. Despite indications that the United States would block the request for reconsideration, none of the Security Council’s 15 members have yet objected.

This is only the second time Palestine’s bid for membership has progressed this far in the process. The Palestinian Authority, which is based in Ramallah in the West Bank, initially applied for full U.N. membership in 2011, but this effort failed when threatened with a United States veto. In 2012, the General Assembly granted Palestine nonmember observer State status, the same status granted to the Holy See, allowing it to participate in U.N. sessions without voting on resolutions.

If the application is put up for a vote in the Security Council, it would need at least nine votes in favor of membership, and it would have to avoid vetoes from permanent members, before moving to the General Assembly. There, it would need a two-thirds majority vote to be granted full membership. There are no veto powers in the GA, and 139 nations, more than two-thirds of the GA, already recognize Palestine as a state.

The Security Council will continue to deliberate on the Palestinian Authority’s application, but as of Thursday, it had been unable to reach consensus on how to move forward. As it stands, the looming threat of a U.S. veto before the initiative leaves the Security Council stands as the largest obstacle to Palestine succeeding in its bid for full U.N. Membership.

ICJ Hearings in Nicaragua v. Germany

This week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held public hearings on provisional measures in Nicaragua v. Germany. Nicaragua asked the ICJ to order Germany to halt its military aid to Israel. It argued that Germany is facilitating breaches of the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law by providing Israel with arms and other support in its assault on Gaza. Germany responded, arguing it has not supported genocidal actions and that the claim relies on an assessment of conduct by a third party, Israel, who is not party to these proceedings. It also presented evidence that 98 percent of its military exports to Israel since Oct. 7 have not been weapons, but other equipment and it has consistently provided humanitarian aid to Gazans despite dangerous conditions.

The ICJ has not yet ruled on admissibility of the case, and even a decision on the requested emergency measures will likely take weeks to deliver.

Mexico Sues Ecuador at the ICJ

Mexico announced on Thursday it filed a claim at the ICJ against Ecuador over last week’s raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Ecuadorian special forces stormed the embassy to apprehend former Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas; Mexico subsequently severed diplomatic ties.

Glas was convicted on charges of bribery related to the massive Odebrecht scandal involving officials in more than a dozen countries, mostly in Latin America. The Mexican embassy granted Glas asylum last Friday, an action labeled as “illicit” by Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa. The raid occurred later that day.

The U.N. Secretary-General expressed alarm, and Mexico, along with several other nations, promptly denounced Ecuador’s actions as a violation of Mexico’s sovereign territory.

Two Years Left to Save Planet from Climate Change, UN Climate Chief Says

Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said this week that massive reforms are needed over the next two years to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. Stiell said the Group of 20 – which includes 19 States with the world’s largest economies, plus the EU and the African Union – are alone responsible for 80% of global emissions and must urgently consider significant policy reform.

Stiell’s remarks follow those of U.N. Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, who presented the latest U.N. report on Financing for Sustainable Development Tuesday. According to the report, U.N. members have fallen alarmingly behind on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Mohammed and Stiell both noted the need for significant investment from key States and reform to the current, outdated development and climate finance system. They emphasized that financing is the key to catching up on the SDGs and the fight against climate change.

Note: Readers may be interested in our climate change coverage.

IMAGE: The United Nations Headquarters, in New York city, on Oct. 18, 2023. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)