United Nations Security Council Resolution 338, 339, 340, and 344

What were UN Security Council Resolutions 338, 339, 340, and 344?

When it became clear that Israel was going to defeat the Arab armies that invadedIsrael and Israeli-held lands in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, the US and the Soviet Union asked the United Nations to intervene. A series of Security Council resolutions followed, calling for a cease-fire, negotiations and UN observers in an attempt,eventually successful, to stabilize the situation.


United States Secretary of State Dr. Kissinger flew to Moscow on October 20, 1973 and, together with the Soviet government, the United States proposed a cease-fire resolution to the United Nations. The Security Council met on October 21 at the urgent request of the US and the USSR. By 14 votes to none and no abstentions (China did not participate in the vote), the Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 338. calling fora cease-fire, implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 (adopted afterthe 1967 Six Day War), and negotiations “aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East”.

The cease-fire did not take hold. With fighting in Egypt still going on, and Egypt losingground, Egypt asked for another meeting of the Security Council. The council held an urgent meeting on October 23, and UN Security Council Resolution 339, submitted jointly by the Soviet Union and the United States, was adopted with 14 votes for, none against and no abstentions (again, China did not participate in the voting). This brief resolution again called fora cease-fire and asked the Secretary General to dispatch observers.

On October 24. with skirmishes continuing, Israel and Egypt agreed to a new cease-fire call by the head of the United Nations Truce Observers to go into effect at 7:00AM local time. But firing continued along the southern sector of the Egyptian front. On that day Egypt lost 15 planes. The cease-fire finally went into effect at 5:00PM Israel time. The next day, October 25, the Security Council met again and adopted UN Security Council Resolution 340 setting up a United Nations Emergency Force for the Middle East, the second such force after the first was used following the Sinai Campaign in 1956.

In December 1973 the United States and the Soviet Union invited Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Israel to a peace conference in Geneva on the basis of the UN Security Council’s call for a “just and durable peace” in Resolution 338. In recognition and support of this effort, the UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 344.


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