United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter for the first time in more than 30 years to call on the Security Council to intervene in the war in Gaza, in a move that was backed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
In a letter on Wednesday addressed to the president of the Security Council, Guterres wrote that the conflict in Gaza and Israel had created “appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Guterres called on the Security Council to “press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe” and for a “humanitarian ceasefire to be declared.”
“The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region,” he wrote. “Such an outcome must be avoided at all costs.”
Article 99 allows the secretary-general to alert the Security Council to “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” The last time it was explicitly invoked was in 1989 amid conflict in Lebanon.
A spokesperson for Guterres said it was a “very dramatic move.”
The EU’s Borrell backed the intervention. In a post on X, he urged “EU members of the UN Security Council and like-minded partners” to support the secretary-general’s call.
Borrell also criticized Israeli settlers in the West Bank for demolishing a Palestinian school constructed with EU funds, calling it a “violation of international law,” adding that “Settler violence against Palestinian communities must stop.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan slammed Guterres’ decision to invoke Article 99, accusing him of “bias against Israel” and saying he should “resign immediately.”
“Today, the Secretary-General has reached a new moral low,” Erdan wrote on X. “The Secretary-General decided to activate this rare clause only when it allows him to put pressure on Israel, which is fighting the Nazi Hamas terrorists.”
Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour said it was important the Security Council call for a cease-fire. “On top of the agenda is this war has to stop,” he said. “A ceasefire has to take place and it has to take place immediately.”
In a reply to Guterres’ letter, the United Arab Emirates, a non-permanent member of the 15-seat Security Council, said it had submitted a draft resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire.
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