28 Oct 2023

India Abstains From Voting In UNGA On Resolution Related To Israel-Hamas Conflict

India opted to abstain during the United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution that urged an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, aiming to halt hostilities and ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

The backdrop to this decision was Israel's forceful counter-offensive against Hamas following unprecedented attacks by the militant group on October 7, which resulted in the loss of over 1,400 lives.

During the meeting of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), a draft resolution, initiated by Jordan and supported by over 40 nations, including Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, and South Africa, was presented. This resolution, titled "Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations," received substantial backing, with 120 nations voting in favor, 14 against, and 45 abstaining.

In addition to India, other countries that chose to abstain included Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ukraine, and the UK.

Notably, the Jordanian-drafted resolution refrained from explicitly mentioning the militant group Hamas, leading to strong objections from the United States.

Before the UNGA vote on the resolution, a proposed amendment was considered, put forth by Canada and co-sponsored by the United States. The amendment sought to incorporate a paragraph in the resolution condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas commencing on October 7, 2023, as well as the taking of hostages, and demanding their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with international law. 

India voted in favor of the amendment, alongside 87 other nations, while 55 member states opposed it, and 23 abstained. Unfortunately, the draft amendment failed to secure a two-thirds majority among the members present and voting.

Dennis Francis, the President of the 78th session of the UNGA, officially announced the failure of the draft amendment.

The Jordanian-drafted resolution emphasized the urgent need for an immediate, lasting, and sustainable humanitarian ceasefire to end hostilities. It also underscored the necessity of ensuring continuous and unrestricted provision of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip, such as water, food, medical supplies, fuel, and electricity, all in line with international humanitarian law.

Furthermore, the resolution called for "immediate, full, sustained, safe and unhindered humanitarian access" for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners. 

It also demanded humanitarian access for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, with a focus on upholding humanitarian principles and facilitating the delivery of urgent aid to Gaza Strip residents, including the establishment of humanitarian corridors.

The U.S. expressed its dissatisfaction with the resolution's omission of the terms "Hamas" and "hostage," characterizing these omissions as "evil." The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, conveyed her strong objections before the resolution vote, emphasizing the importance of naming the perpetrators and acknowledging the hostages held by Hamas.

For these reasons, the United States co-sponsored an amendment proposed by Canada to rectify these omissions.

The resolution also called on all parties to immediately and fully adhere to their obligations under international law, particularly in safeguarding civilians and their well-being, humanitarian personnel, and ensuring the provision of essential supplies and services to all Gaza Strip residents in need.

Additionally, the resolution urged the revocation of Israel's order for Palestinian civilians, United Nations staff, humanitarian and medical workers to evacuate northern areas of the Gaza Strip and relocate to the south. It further demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all illegally held captive civilians, emphasizing their safety, well-being, and humane treatment in line with international law.

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