The "Uniting for Peace" doctrine, invoked in November 1950 via its resolution 377A(V), allows the UN General Assembly to recommend collective action when the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its responsibility in a matter. In 2004 the International Court of Justice approved this doctrine when it confirmed that the prohibition of simultaneous action in Articles 11 and 12 of the UN Charter had been superseded by practice (I.C.J. Reports 2004, p. 136, at paragraphs 27-28).

Yet as far as I know there has been no attempt in the current Syrian controversy to invoke Uniting for Peace. Instead the US has maintained that it must in the face of differences with China and Russia act on its own, with whatever support from other nations it can garner. And the commentaries I've read don't allude to Uniting for Peace; they either support independent action by the US or oppose it; and those who oppose it (such as Pres. Putin in his recent letter to the New York Times) often cite the requirement for Security Council action, without any consideration or even mention of Uniting for Peace.

My question is: Why is Uniting for Peace not given any consideration in the current Syrian controversy?

  • 5
    I'll make an educated guess that it is not supported by any current Security Councel members (Russia OR USA) because they are worried it will be later used against their own interests.
    – user4012
    Sep 17 '13 at 0:05
  • 1
    Probably because US thinks that GA would not support such action and doesn't want the embarrassment of trying to get it and failing.
    – StasM
    Sep 17 '13 at 5:03

Remember first why Uniting for Peace was born. In 1950, most countries wanted to take measures regarding the conflict in Korea but the USSR's obstructionist veto worked in order to prevent it. Since then, the Uniting for Peace is useless.

To invoke this, there are some things you have to consider that come with the action of this Resolution.

  • Are we really sure that we want to take these actions? Is it prudent? Will it be neutral help or for one side? Most of the time, we see military intervention is to "protect the civilians" or to serve as "help" in the conflict but history shows us the military often chooses a side (usually, not always, rebels) to "protect and help"; remember for example, NATO acted in Libya to help civilians; we now know they only protected the rebels. So, let's suppose the intervention will help, they won't pick a side, this takes one more step to the next question:

  • Did the Syrian government use all the measures, lines of actions, exhausted all the peaceful ways to prevent a military intervention? When this failed, the International Community ask the Security Council to take action.

  • When the first point was made, the second consideration comes with more questions about the acting of the military, meaning:

    • What are the lines of action? Should we consider using military forces to find a solution/dialogue or impose one line approved by the UNSC? Say, you know what are you going to do; this leaves us to the next issue:
  • The humanitarian aid. As you know, Syria needs lots of help, especially the civilians and refugees. The size of logistics support be to keep open the roads and airfields that would be needed, provision of humanitarian materials associated with housing, medical care, and feeding. Will the humanitarian convoy be protected? Will there be a responsible coalition to coordinate all the actions and measures previously mentioned? This subject is connected with one more:

    • Who is going to finance this? The UN, the states, NGOs?

It's really difficult, especially in this specific case (Syria), to take actions because there are so many interests interposed (the G5, all of them have something to do with the actions); better than invoke Uniting for Peace (I think), this is an international politics matter.

  • 6
    The USSR's veto wasn't in play in 1950; at the time, they were having their representative boycott the UN to protest them not admitting the People's Republic of China. As a result, the USSR cast no vote on the resolution authorising military action in Korea, either for or against.
    – Vikki
    Mar 6 '18 at 4:40

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