The Charter of the United Nations was a document created at the end of World War II with the aim of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war, strengthening human rights, establishing new tenets and mechanisms of international law, and improving life for all people. It was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco in 1945, joined by Poland shortly after, and has grown to a current contingent of 193 states. Membership is open to all ‘peace-loving’ states which accept the obligations of the Charter – including agreeing to settle international disputes by peaceful means without threatening the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.
Countries signing the Charter are obliged to “ensure…that armed force shall not be used, except in the common interest”.
Since 1945, the United States has used military force in countries all around the world: Vietnam, Laos, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, El Salvador, Grenada, Libya, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Georgia, Djibouti, Pakistan and Syria, among others.
The US has also sent huge amounts of military aid to Israel during its illegal occupation and constant encroachment on Palestinian territories.
Article 6 of the Charter states that “A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”
In its 79 history, not state has ever been expelled under Article 6 – the nearest was nearly 50 years ago, when in October 1974 a draft resolution to expel South Africa due to its apartheid regime was vetoed by the United States, the UK and France.
The InvokeThe6th campaign is the brainchild of Shahid Bolsen, leader of the Middle Nation organisation. Middle Nation campaigns to promote economic sovereignty and political independence of Muslim countries, as well as “the psychological decolonisation of Muslims”.
The Article 6 campaign though is seen as a cross-cultural and grassroots movement to shine a light on the United Nations’ role thwarting the struggle for an independent Palestine, and especially on the barriers that the United States has consistently put up with its privileged power on the Security Council. This has shown itself in recent United Nations votes on a resolution to call for a ceasefire, backed by an overwhelming number of members but vetoed by the US.
In just a few weeks, protests have sprung up across the world as part of Palestine Ceasefire rallies and as demonstrations outside US embassies. Campaigners say that any member of the United Nations can propose the invocation of Article 6 against another state, but then this has to be recommended by the Security Council for consideration by the General Assembly. This is clearly a huge mountain to climb, but the movement sees its purpose as two-fold – if the current mechanisms fail to bring a democratic result and an examination of the US membership, then the pressure will be on the UN to reform its voting system to represent its members more democratically.
Although the United States has had a much wider history of using military force, the human rights records of other Security Council members (eg China and Russia) are very arguably far worse, so the focus on United States at this time is very much linked in with the International Court of Justice’s ruling on plausible genocide by US-backed Israel, and presents a prescient opportunity to push for United Nations reform in general. It’s perhaps time to challenge the bizarre notion that the states engaged in the worst repeated blatant breaches of the Charter are the ones allowed to override members’ votes.
Although the presence on Saturday was small, Nuriyya had travelled from Norfolk to hand out leaflets and she told us there was a lot of interest from the people she spoke with. There have been larger mobilisations in the UK in Manchester and Leeds, and a larger presence is promised for the next national march in a couple of weeks in London.
More info at invokethe6th.org