Can the newly proposed UN resolution for Gaza aid bring about a noticeable impact in the region?

The resolution calling for large-scale delivery of aid to Gaza was approved by the security council of the United Nations. Here’s what you need to know:

The toned-down resolution, approved by the UN security council on Friday, calls for the delivery of aid to Gaza on a large scale, but does not include a call for a ceasefire.

Will the conditions on the ground in Gaza be affected by the new UN resolution?

The Israeli offensive in Gaza will not be stopped by UN security council resolution 2720, as it does not aim to do so. The resolution only urges for “urgent steps” to be taken in order to establish the necessary “conditions” for a sustainable ceasefire, which can be interpreted differently. Israel believes that these steps involve the complete destruction of Hamas. As for the delivery of humanitarian aid, it depends. A UN special coordinator will be appointed to oversee an increase in the flow of aid, and the resolution “demands” that all concerned parties, including Israel, fully cooperate. However, the precedents are not encouraging. Israel generally views the UN as a hostile and biased actor and has recently revoked the visa of the resident UN coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories.

Does the UN resolution have the force of international law?

No, only a few UN resolutions are considered legally binding. International lawyers do not always agree on the criteria for making a resolution binding, but there is a general consensus that it should reference Chapter VII of the UN charter, which grants the security council the authority to take both military and nonmilitary action to address a “threat to international peace and security”. The resolution should also state that the council “decides” on a course of action, rather than just calling for it. Resolution 2720 does not meet any of these conditions. However, some lawyers argue that by using the term “demand,” the council is creating a legal obligation outside of Chapter VII. Nevertheless, Israel has violated over two dozen previous security council resolutions, many of which “demanded” that it cease building settlements on the occupied West Bank.

What purpose do these resolutions serve then?

UN security council resolutions often serve as a means of political signaling regarding global opinion. It is rare for the chronically divided five permanent members to reach an agreement, so if they do, it indicates diplomatic significance when it comes to a country’s actions being perceived as wrong. The process of formulating a resolution can also contribute to resolving differences among major powers. Friday’s resolution on Gaza created a small policy space that both the US and Russia could accept. In the past, the US has utilized UN resolutions as a way to send messages to Israel. When Washington, on rare occasions, abstains from voting on a resolution that criticizes Israeli policy or supports Palestinian rights, it typically signifies that the administration’s patience with Israel’s actions is wearing thin.

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