The results of a draft resolution vote are seen on a screen as the UN General Assembly holds an emergency special session on the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters on December 12, 2023 in New York City. The General Assembly resumed its 45th plenary meeting after Egypt and Mauritania invoked Resolution 377, known as "Uniting for Peace," to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the two-month-long war between Israel and Hamas after the U.S. vetoed a similar vote in the Security Council. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP/LEHTIKUVA

International news

In a decisive vote, the United Nations General Assembly has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution, supported by 153 member states including Finland, not only demands a halt to the hostilities but also the unconditional and immediate release of hostages held by Hamas, and the protection of civilians in accordance with international law.

Kimmo Kiljunen, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP), emphasized the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for peace. "

The message from Finland and 152 other UN member states is clear and weighty: an immediate ceasefire is essential as the civilian situation in the region is catastrophic. The crisis cannot be resolved through warfare; an authentic negotiation process must commence. Finland must continue to play an active role in promoting this cause," Kiljunen stated.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, with estimates of over 18,000 deaths since October 7. According to the United Nations' World Food Programme, up to 90 percent of the population in some areas are experiencing hunger. The World Health Organization reports that the healthcare situation is near collapse, describing it as catastrophic.

"The resolution is brief and balanced, calling not just for an immediate ceasefire but also for the release of hostages and the protection of civilians as per international law. The most crucial aspect is the international community's clear message in favor of peace. It was also significant that Finland supported the resolution, thereby endorsing the UN and the efficacy of the multilateral system," Kiljunen commented.

Looking ahead, Kiljunen underlines the importance of returning to negotiations for a true two-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights to live freely and securely. He also suggests that Finland should consider recognizing the State of Palestine, as 139 UN member states have already done.

Despite the resolution's strong support in the UN General Assembly, a similar resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Security Council was vetoed by the United States on December 8. It is important to note that resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly are not legally binding. In the emergency session of the General Assembly, 153 countries voted in favor of the resolution, with 10 against, including the United States and Israel, and 23 abstentions.