United Nations Security Council resolutions come under two different chapter headings of the UN Charter.
More frequently, as with the recent Resolution 1701 (passed Aug. 11), which called for the truce between the warring parties in Lebanon, these resolutions are drawn under Chapter 6 of the charter, titled “Pacific Settlement of Disputes.”
Articles 33-38 authorize the Security Council to investigate any disputes or conflicts among UN members that may threaten local or general peace, and suggest means for settling them with UN involvement.
The most well-known of Chapter 6 resolutions pertaining to the Middle East conflict is Resolution 242—passed in November 1967 in the wake of the Six-Day War and requiring Israel to withdraw from “territories conquered”—the repercussions of which continue to this day.
The point to note here is that in a Chapter 6 resolution, the willingness for settlement rests with the parties in the dispute.
However bitter the conflict is, a Chapter 6 resolution does not put the UN itself at odds with the parties involved, nor does it oblige the UN to enforce settlement.
But a Security Council resolution under Chapter 7—titled “Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression”—is entirely another matter.
A Chapter 7 resolution places the mentioned party at odds with the UN. Its enforcement, if the party fails or refuses to comply, rests then with Security Council, according to Articles 39-51.
The recent Resolution 1696 (of this past July 31), which was directed at Iran to comply with its obligations as signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was a Chapter 7 resolution. So were those against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which eventually precipitated the U.S. and its allies to remove the Iraqi dictator.
It is necessary to keep these distinctions in mind when discussing UN resolutions, irrespective of the opinion one might have of the UN itself, given its more or less appalling record in the Rwandan genocide and the Oil-for-Food scandal.
My reading of Resolution 1701 pertaining to the war in Lebanon confirms this was an exercise in pious hand-wringing by Security Council members who were well aware of the futility of their efforts. It is a Chapter 6 resolution with no teeth.
Resolution 1701 calls for “cessation of hostilities” between Hezbollah and Israel and, thereby, establishes an outrageous equivalence between a terrorist organization and Israel, a member state with a democratically elected government.
It reiterates earlier resolutions (1680, of this past May, and 1559, of September 2004) that called for all “foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon” and for “the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.”
But what has happened since those resolutions? Israel withdrew completely from Lebanon by June 2000. The effort to get Syria to withdraw as well culminated instead with the still-unsolved murder in February 2005 of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was instrumental in securing the passage of Resolution 1559.
As for the disbanding of militias, Hezbollah has only gathered strength with the full backing of Iran and Syria.
The war started by Hezbollah on July 12 illustrated, as if any further proof was needed, that Lebanon has little more than an empty shell of a government. It lacks any meaningful authority over its territory, and de facto power rests with a terrorist group that does the bidding of Tehran and Damascus.
Since Resolution 1559 has remained unenforceable, there is no reason to think that Resolution 1701 will fare any better.
Neither what passes for Lebanese authority in Beirut, nor UNIFIL (UN Interim Forces in Lebanon), even with additional peacekeepers, will risk a firefight to disarm Hezbollah.
Moreover, the resolution makes no demand on Iran and Syria to end their funding of Hezbollah, and respect Lebanon’s sovereignty.
Hence, the real effects of this resolution are to further embolden Hezbollah terrorists to pursue the aims of their paymasters with impunity, and prolong the agony of Lebanon.