by Red Constantino, Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Greenpeace calls on the Arroyo administration to support the groundswell taking place in the UN today calling for the involvement of the UN General Assembly in resolving the crisis in Iraq.
Contrary to recent government pronouncements, Philippine support for the US-led attack on Iraq does not serve the national interest. The US war of aggression threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Filipino civilians.

The war also puts at grave risk the very future of peace and the United Nations itself. Greenpeace believes that the interest of the Philippines is best served if the Arroyo government throws its support behind the growing calls for the invocation of UN Resolution 377, also known as Uniting for Peace.

In 1950, the UN General Assembly set up a procedure for insuring that stalemates between countries would not prevent the United Nations from carrying out its mission to maintain international peace and security. With the United States playing an important role in its adoption, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 377 in an almost unanimous vote. Uniting for Peace (UfP) provides that if, because of the lack of unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council the Council cannot maintain peace where there is a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, the General Assembly is obligated to consider the matter immediately. Under the UfP, emergency special sessions of the General Assembly must be convened within twenty-four hours of the receipt by the Secretary-General of a request from a majority of UN Member States.

Uniting for Peace has been used ten times since 1950. The US, in fact, used the UfP during the Suez Canal crisis to eject French and British forces occupying Egypt in 1950. The General Assembly was also convened in 1950 under the initiative of the US to pressure the Soviet Union into stopping its intervention in Hungary.

(Yet now that is the aggressor, the US government is alarmed over UFP developments and has sent out letters this week to each UN member state with the demand that “calls for an emergency session of the General Assembly … be avoided.” According to the US letter, such calls “will not change the path we are on, but will increase tensions, make divisions deeper and could provoke more damage to the UN and the Security Council.” This diplomatic preemptive attack by the US was confirmed days ago by its ambassador to Chile, who said that the US letter was sent in the hopes of “avoiding more diplomatic problems.”)

There is more than enough basis for President Arroyo to embrace this path to peace. Very recently, majority of the House of Representatives voted against Philippine support for the then looming war on Iraq. Early this week, Rep. Apolinario Lozada, Jr., the Chair of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, filed Resolution 1065 urging President Arroyo to immediately authorize the country’s permanent representative in the UN to either file or support the filing by another UN Member State of the UfP mechanism. Many Filipino legislators have since echoed the need for the President to seriously consider the Lozada initiative.

President Arroyo will not be the first to call for the involvement of the UN General Assembly to resolve the crisis at hand. UN General Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic has said that it is “very likely” that a special session would be called as early as next week to take up the UfP resolution. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has also called for the invocation of the UfP this week so that “the UN General Assembly can meet to discuss the issue.” Megawati also urged the US to stop its illegal war.

The Russian State Duma also approved this week with a vote of 226 to 101 a resolution “calling on the Russian president to seek a UN General Assembly emergency session” as a way of resolving the crisis. Other countries such as Brazil and Malaysia are also supporting the measure.

We urge President Arroyo to immediately extend her support to the Lozada initiative and to President Megawati’s demand for the US-led attack to be resolved at the level of the UN General Assembly.

We implore President Arroyo to weigh the wisdom in the words of Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council and for 16 years the Vatican’s representative to the UN, who continues to appeal to the UN to immediately hold an emergency session of the General Assembly so that “all countries could talk and vote, and the entire international community would face its responsibilities.”

The onset of war does not diminish the unprecedented activism for peace that this country has displayed in recent weeks and months, in consonance with the global anti-war movement. As the US-manned war machine in Iraq accelerates its violent march towards oil and empire, so should all peace-loving citizens escalate the campaign for peace.

We can all act to stop the war. For starters, we urge the public to add their names to the thousands who already have signed on their support to the petition calling for the invocation of the Uniting for Peace Resolution/UN Resolution 377 at

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