UN Security Council passes Gaza ceasefire resolution

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution demanding an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and the release of hostages.
un security council gaza

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution demanding an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and also “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”.

The United States was the only member state (out of 15) to abstain from the vote.

So what does this all mean?


On 7 October, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. According to data cited by the UN, roughly 1,200 people were killed. Hamas, which Australia lists as a terrorist organisation, captured about 240 hostages. 134 remain captive today.

Israel responded by declaring war and bombarding Gaza. According to data cited by the UN, at least 32,300 Palestinians have now been killed since 7 October. Israel’s war in Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis, with the UN warning that famine is “imminent”. Israel has said it will not stop fighting until all hostages are returned and Hamas is destroyed.

UN Security Council

The UN has six main bodies, including the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice.

The Security Council is also one of these bodies and is responsible for the “maintenance of international peace and security”. It’s the only body that actually has the power to make decisions that member states (countries) are obligated to implement.

It has 15 members (some permanent, some temporary). Australia is not currently one of the members.

The General Assembly (all member states) has previously passed a similar resolution. But this is the first time the Security Council has passed a ceasefire resolution since 7 October.

Typically, Security Council resolutions carry more weight than General Assembly resolutions because they are classified in international law as legally binding.

However, these resolutions still remain hard to enforce.

Security Council resolution on Gaza

The Security Council‘s resolution demands a ceasefire in Gaza during Ramadan, and a “lasting sustainable ceasefire” beyond that.

Ramadan (happening right now) is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims who observe it fast every day from sunrise to sunset.

The resolution also demanded the “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”.

There were 14 votes in favour of the resolution. The United States abstained.

Members in favour

Many of the 14 members in favour of the resolution said the crisis had gone on for too long.

France’s spokesperson said: “The Security Council’s silence on Gaza was becoming deafening, it is high time now for the Council to finally contribute to finding a solution to this crisis.”

China’s spokesperson said: “For the lives that have already perished, the Council resolution today comes too late.”

U.S response

White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. does agree with a “ceasefire and the release of hostages”. However, he said the U.S. abstained because the resolution did not outright condemn Hamas.

The Israeli Government has criticised the U.S. for not using its veto power. In the Security Council, if one of the five permanent member states ‘veto’ a resolution, it automatically does not pass.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a delegation to Washington this week as a result.

What next?

Resolutions passed by the Security Council are binding, in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter which states that member states of the UN (including Israel) “agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council”.

However, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the resolution as “non-binding” in her speech to the Council, noting the U.S. did not fully agree with the text of the resolution.

The UN itself cannot enforce resolutions.

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