Introduction To Resolution 377 (V) of 1950 Uniting for Peace:
The General Assembly, in its resolution 377 (V), entitled "Uniting for Peace", which was adopted on 3 November 1950, reaffirmed the duty of the permanent members of the Council to seek unanimity and to exercise restraint in the use of the veto and resolved "that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations for collective measures,...". In the same resolution, the Assembly amended the rules of procedure of the General Assembly to provide for the convening of emergency special sessions.
At the time, the U.S. played a crucial role in the adoption of that resolution. In fact, it made the case that, in San Fransisco in 1945, the small and medium sized states had only agreed to the right of veto on condition that the General Assembly was granted the power to intervene and to make recommendations within the framework of chapters six and seven of the Charter, in cases where the Security Council was unable to discharge its primary responsibility.
Indeed, the General Assembly, in protecting international peace and security, did convene ten emergency special sessions, including the Tenth Emergency Special Session, held on 24 and 25 April 1997, to consider the "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory". The other sessions convened were the following: in 1956 the first was held on the Suez Canal; also in 1956 the second was held on the situation in Hungary; in 1958 the third was held on the situation in Lebanon; in 1960 the fourth was held on the situation in the Congo; in 1967 the fifth was held on the question in the Middle East; in 1980 the sixth was held on the situation in Afghanistan; in 1980 the seventh was held on the question of Palestine; in 1981 the eighth was held on the question of Namibia; in 1982 the ninth was held on the Syrian Golan Heights.
In each of those previous sessions the General Assembly did in fact contribute directly to the maintenance of international peace and security, and it did that as a step of last resort after the Security Council's failure each time to do its job. Prior to the last emergency special session, Israel, the occupying Power, not only persisted in violating international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, but it also threatened the Middle East peace process and the agreements reached between the parties, threatening the stability of the region and thus threatening international peace and security. As all of this occurred, two successive vetoes were cast, shielding Israel and frustrating minimum action by the Council, which would have at least prevented further deterioration of the situation. It was then that the membership decided to use the tool of last resort to exercise their collective responsibility, and the Tenth ESS was successfully convened in spite of U.S. opposition and European hesitance over the procedure.
Text of Resolution 377 (v). Uniting for peace:
377 (v). Uniting for peace
The General Assembly,
Recognizing that the first two stated Purposes of the United Nations are:
" To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace", and
" To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace",
Reaffirming that it remains the primary duty of all Members of the United Nations, when involved in all international dispute, to seek settlement of such a dispute by peaceful means through the procedures laid down in chapter V1 of the charter, and recalling the successful achievements of the United Nations in this regard on a number of previous occasions,
Finding that international tension exists on a dangerous scale,
Recalling its resolution 290 (1V) entitled " Essentials of peace", which states that disregard of the principles of the charter of the United Nations is primarily responsible for the continuance of international tension, and desiring to contribute further to the objectives of that resolution,
Reaffirming the importance of the exercise by the Security Council of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and the duty of the permanent members to seek unanimity and to exercise restraint in the use of the veto,
Reaffirming that the initiative in negotiating the agreements for armed forces provided for in Article 43 of the Charter belongs to the Security Council, and desiring to ensure that, pending the conclusion of such agreements, the United Nations has at its disposal means for maintaining international peace and security,
Conscious that failure of the Security Council to discharge its responsibilities on behalf of all the Member States, particularly those responsibilities referred to in the two preceding paragraphs, does not relieve Member States of their obligations or the United Nations of its responsibility under the Charter to maintain international peace and security,
Recognizing in particular that such failure does not deprive the General Assembly of its rights or relieve it of its responsibilities under the Charter in regard to the maintenance of international peace and security,
Recognizing that discharge by the General Assembly of its responsibilities in these respects calls for possibilities of observation which would ascertain the facts and expose aggressors; for the existence of armed forces which could be used collectively; and for the possibility of timely recommendation by the General Assembly to Members of the United Nations for collective action which, to be effective, should be prompt,
1. Resolves that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and Security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of arm force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security. If not in session at the time, the General Assembly may meet in emergency special session within twenty-four hours of the request therefor. Such emergency special session shall be called if requested by the Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations;
2. Adopts for this purpose the amendments to its rules of procedure set forth in the annex to the present resolution;
3. Establishes a Peace Observation Commission which, for the calendar years 1951 and 1952, shall be composed of fourteen Members, namely: China, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Iraq, Israel, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sweden, the Union of the Soviet Socialist republics, he United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America and Uruguay, and which could observe and report on the situation in any area where there exists international tension the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. Upon the invitation or with the consent of the State into whose territory the Commission would go, the General Assembly, or the interim Committee when the General Assembly is not in session, may utilize the Commission if the Security Council is not exercising the functions assigned to it by the charter with the respect to the matter in question. Decisions to Utilise the Commission shall be made on the affirmative vote of two thirds of the members present and voting. The Security Council may also utilise the Commission in accordance with its authority under the Chapter;
4. Decides that the Commission shall have authority in its discretion to appoint sub-commission and to utilise the services of observers to assist it in the performance of its functions;
5. Recommends to all governments and authorities that they co-operate with the Commission and assist it in the performance of its functions;
6. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary staff and facilities, utilizing, where directed by the Commission, the United Nations panel of field observers envisaged in General Assembly resolution 297 B (IV);
7. Invites each Member of the United Nations to survey its resources in order to determine the nature and scope of the assistance it may be a in position to render in support of any recommendations of the Security Council or of the General Assembly for the restoration of international peace and security;
8. Recommends to the States Members of the United Nations that each Member maintain within its national armed forces elements so trained, organized and equipped that they could promptly be made available, in accordance with its constitutional processes, for service as a United Nations unit or units, upon recommendation by the Security Council or the General Assembly, without prejudice to the use of such elements in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter;
9. Invites the Members of the United Nations to inform the Collective Measures Committee provided for in paragraph 11 as soon as possible of the measures taken in implementation of the preceding paragraph;
10. Requests the Secretary-General to appoint, with the approval of the Committee provided for in paragraph 11, a panel of military experts who could be made available, on request, to Member States wishing to obtain technical advice regarding the organization, training, and equipment for prompt service as United Nations units of the elements referred to in paragraph 8;
11. Establishes a Collective Measures Committee consisting of fourteen Members, namely: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Venezuela and Yugoslavia, and directs the Committee, in consultation with the Secretary-General and with such Member States as the Committee finds appropriate, to study and make report to the Security Council and the General Assembly, not later than 1 September 1951, on methods, including those in section C of the present resolution, which might be used to maintain and strengthen international peace and security in accordance with the Purpose and Principles of the Charter, taking into acount of collective self-defence and regional arrangements (Article 51 and 52 of the Charter);
12. Recommends to all Member States that they cooperate with the Committee and assist it in the performance of its functions;
13. Requests the Secretary-General to furnish the staff and facilities necessary for the effective accomplishment of the purposes set forth in section C and D of the present resolution;
14. Is fully conscious that, in adopting the proposals set forth above, enduring peace will not be secured solely by collective security arrangements against breaches of international peace and acts of aggression, but that a genuine and lasting peace depends also upon the observance of all the Principles and Purposes established in the Charter of the United Nations, upon the implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council, the General Assembly and other principal organs of the United Nations intended to achieve the maintainance of international peace and security, and especially upon respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and on the establishment and maintenance of conditions of economic and social well-being in all countries; and accordingly
15. Urges Member States to respect fully, and to intensify, joint action, in cooperation with the United Nations, to develop and stimulate universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to intensify individual and collective efforts to achieve conditions of economic stability and social progress, particularly through the development of under-developed countries and areas.
The rules of procedures of the General Assembly are amended in the following respects:
1. The present text of rule 8 shall become paragraph (a) of that rule, and a new paragraph (b) shall be added to read as follows: "Emergency special sessions pursuant to resolution 377 A (V) shall be convened within twenty-four hours of the receipt by the Secretary-General of a request for such a session from the Security Council, on the vote of any seven members thereof, or of a request from a majority of the Members of the Unietd Nations expressed by a vote in the Interim Committee or otherwise, or of the concurrence of a majority of Members as provided in rule 9."
2. The present text of rule 9 shall become paragraph (a) of that rule and a new paragraph (b) shall be added to read as follows: "This rule shall apply also to a request by any Member for an emergency special session pursuant to resolution 377 A (V). In such a case the Secretary-General shall communicate with other Members by the most expeditious means of communication available."
3. Rule 10 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following: " In case of an emergency special session convened pursuant to rule 8 (b), the Secreatry-General shall notify the Members of the United Nations at least twelve hours in advance of the opening of the session."
4. Rule 16 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following: " The provisional agenda of an emergency special session shall be communicated to the Members of the United Nations simultaneously to with the communication summoning the session."
5. Rule 19 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following: " During an emergency special session additional items concerning the matters dealt with in resolution 377 A (V) may be added to the agenda by a two-thirds majority of the Members present and voting."
6. There is added a new rule to precede rule 65 to read as follows: "Notwithstanding the provisions of any rule and unless the General Assembly decides otherwise, the Assembly, in case of an emergency special session, shall convene in plenary session only and proceed directly to consider the item proposed for consideration in the request for the holding of the session, without previous reference to the General Committee or to any other Committee; the President and Vice-Presidents for such emergency special sessions shall be, respectively, the Chairman of those delegations from which were elected the President and Vice-President of the previous session."
302nd plenary meeting,
3 November 1950.
For the purpose of maintaining international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and, in particular, with Chapters V, VI and VII of the Charetr,
The General Assembly
Recommends to the Security Council:
That it should take the necessary steps to ensure that the action provided for under the Charter is taken with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace or acts of aggression and with respect to the peaceful settlement of disputes or situations likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security;
That it should devise measures for the earliest application of Articles 43, 45, 46 and 47 of the Charter of the United Nations regarding the placing of armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council by the States Members of the United Nations and the effective functioning of the Military Staff Committee;
The above dispositions should in no manner prevent the General Assembly from fulfilling its functions under resolution 377 A (V).
302nd plenary meeting,
3 November 1950.
The General Assembly,
Recognizing that the primary function of the United Nations Organization is to maintain and promote peace, security and justice among all nations,
Recognizing the responsibility of all Member States to promote the cause of international peace in accordance with their obligations as provided in the Charter,
Recognizing that the Charter charges the Security Council with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security,
Reaffirming the importance of unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council on all problems which are likely to threaten world peace,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 190 (III) entitled "Appeal to the Great Powers to renew their efforts to compose their efforts to compose their differences and establish a lasting peace",
Recommends to the permanent members of the Security Council that:
302nd plenary meeting,
3 November 1950.