The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, urging the UN Security Council to act on the war in Gaza.
Article 99 allows the secretary-general to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
In his letter to the council’s president, Guterres invoked this responsibility, saying he believed the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, “may aggravate existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Article 99 is a special power – and the only independent political tool given to the secretary-general in the UN Charter – that allows him to call a meeting of the Security Council on his own initiative to issue warnings about new threats to international peace and security, and matters that are not yet on the council’s agenda.
If the council does choose to act on Guterres’s advice and adopt a ceasefire resolution, it does have additional powers at its disposal to ensure the resolution is implemented, including the power to impose sanctions or authorise the deployment of an international force.
But the council’s five permanent members – China, Russia, the US, the UK and France – hold veto power.
The US used that veto on October 18 against a resolution that would have condemned Hamas’s attack on Israel while calling for a pause in the fighting to allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
Twelve other council members voted in favour, while Russia and the UK abstained.
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