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The flawed UN has inspired a global day of action to stop the genocide in Gaza

January 4, 2024 at 3:21 pm

Pro-Palestinian protesters in New York City amass outside of the United Nations and The U.S. Mission to the UN during an emergency session of the UN General Assembly for a U.N. resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza [Selçuk Acar – Anadolu Agency]

Global civil society is increasingly galvanising solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel’s genocide in Gaza continues. Activists for justice and peace from around the globe have designated 13 January as a global “day of action” for Gaza.

The call for global action follows nearly 12 weeks of demonstrations held in thousands of locations, from Malawi to the United States, including support from Icelanders, South Africans and Native Americans.

The global day of action hopes to highlight the worldwide condemnation of Israel’s relentless bombing and siege of Gaza, which is claiming around 300 lives daily; the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the West Bank; the institutionalised discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel; the dehumanising of Palestinians by Israeli leaders; and Israel’s provocative attacks against Syria and Lebanon.

Besides exposing Israeli atrocities and aggression, the global day of action will highlight several other issues. These include the global concern about the hierarchical structure of the UN that operates to benefit the geopolitical interests of the club’s elite members. The two-tier system is inherently flawed. The Security Council sits at the top, and its resolutions are binding on UN member states. General Assembly resolutions are advisory, rather than binding.

The privileged Security Council includes five permanent members: the US, the UK, Russia, France and China, with ten rotating members, elected by the General Assembly to serve on the council for two years. Only the permanent members have the power to veto any resolution.

The General Assembly is where most countries sit, and where they may as well be spectators. At best, resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly can only be an indication of global frustration at the permanent members of the Security Council.

As permanent members, the US and the UK have been obstructing the calls by most of the rest of the world for a ceasefire in Gaza.

A global day of protest thus serves as a powerful tool for exposing this unfair and ineffective international order; it further sheds light on how the US and UK governments hold justice hostage and the world to ransom as they shield Israel from accountability.

By exposing this flawed system, the protesters hope to empower other countries with moral independence to move beyond support at the UN. The global day of action calls on leaders to impose sanctions, exert economic pressure and take Israel to the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity and genocide. The South African government has already filed a case with the court.

READ: Germany rejects Israel call to displace Palestinians from Gaza

Anti-war protests in the 1960s and 70s against the Vietnam War helped bring an end to US involvement. The protests against the 2003 invasion of Iraq witnessed millions of people around the world taking part. Although they did not stop the subsequent war, they were instrumental in denouncing those involved as warmongers and pariahs.

Ironically, it is now more than two decades since the anti-Iraq War protests and the world is again being asked to support justice and peace. As in the past, the aim is to bolster international institutions like the UN and emancipate the nations of the world from the clutches of US warmongering diktats.

A dedicated day of global protest for Gaza has the added value of increasing the visibility of the genocide, challenging Israel’s dehumanising discourse and showing the breadth of global solidarity with the Palestinians. This, in turn, exerts pressure on the handful of Israel’s allies and empowers the majority of nations to bring an end to the genocide being conducted by the occupation state.

The past three months have shown that the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) has never ended, and its most acute manifestation of 1948 is returning even more aggressively than before. This is despite the slogans of “never again”, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the worldwide promotion of democratic ideals.

People’s power in the form of the anti-apartheid movement from the 1970s to the 1990s that ended apartheid in South Africa, despite Pretoria being supported by the US and UK, is needed today more than ever. Israel has already passed the legal threshold for designation as an apartheid state according to B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza are generating a scale of destruction comparable to the most devastating wars of the twentieth century. By mid-December, Israel had dropped 29,000 bombs, missiles and artillery shells on the enclave. Nearly 70 per cent of Gaza’s 439,000 homes have been completely or partially destroyed. This is equivalent to destroying cities like Boston, Helsinki, Rotterdam and Leeds.

READ: Israel dropped 65,000 tonnes of bombs on Gaza in 89 days

According to the UN, Israel’s war in Gaza has left half of the population of about 2.2 million at risk of starvation. Indeed, 90 per cent say that they regularly go without food for a whole day.

Furthermore, the World Health Organisation reports that Israel’s destruction of the water and sewage infrastructure are resulting in the spread of diseases that may ultimately kill more people than its bombs.

The global day of action arises out of the realisation that efforts by ordinary people are required to end the genocide in Gaza. It is all about them demanding that their governments and state institutions shift away from war and usher in a humane global order of equity and justice. Even as I write, we are witnessing civil society groups from Malaysia, South Africa, India and across the Americas, Asia and Europe starting to mobilise for the 13 January.

This is an edited version of an article which first appeared in Middle East Eye.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.