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Reviving the Concept of Trusteeship as a Stepping-Stone to Peace in the Middle East

Like it or not, our world has become so interconnected and interdependent that events that have hitherto been regarded as regional in nature now threaten our well-being everywhere.

The Ukraine war triggered global food and energy crises, global inflation, exacerbated the worldwide refugee crisis, and renewed the specter of a nuclear war.

The war in Gaza has added to these woes by sparking reactions that threaten global shipping through the Suez Canal, putting a further dent in our global economy by raising consumer prices. We must act swiftly and effectively now to stem the cancerous spread of violence before we find ourselves engulfed in a global conflagration.

The international community must step up and shoulder a responsibility it has, for too long, abdicated: to maintain and restore peace in the world.

We can begin by going beyond mere words and adopting mechanisms to operationalize and implement a principle known as the Responsibility to Protect, adopted unanimously by 193 nations at the UN Summit of world leaders in 2005. It provides that if a government is unable or unwilling to protect its people, it falls to the international community to step in and shoulder that responsibility.

A mechanism that is worth considering along these lines is that of making Gaza an international trust for a limited period of time until it is ready for self-governance. Even if there is no appetite to revive the Trusteeship Council, an organ of the United Nations which was suspended (though not dismantled) in 1994, we can revive and apply its attributes to create this trust as a stepping-stone for peace in the Middle East.

We should urge the UN General Assembly to create an ad hoc Trusteeship Council that would act as a time-limited cocoon (say of 5 years) around Gaza, allowing it to heal at all levels until it is able to take up its role as a mature member of the international community of nations. Fortunately, the case of South West Africa’s evolution to becoming Namibia provides us with a precedent that can serve as a useful roadmap.

Many benefits flow from this approach: first, Gaza would be under the direct administration and control of the UN, which would appoint an ad hoc Trusteeship Council for Gaza (and possibly parts of the West Bank) composed of a mix of countries from the region (such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) and beyond (like Canada, Germany, France, the UK and Australia) on condition that they are committed to the well-being of all parties to the conflict and to establishing peace in the region.

Having such a Council frees Israel from the burden of administering these territories and affords the Palestinians the space to recover, develop and grow into an independent self-governing entity.

Second, Gaza could be demilitarized, thereby ensuring the security of both its people and its neighbors. Here again, we can turn to the successful experiences of Northern Ireland and East Timor for lessons in how best to achieve this.

Third, an economic recovery and reconstruction plan akin to the Marshall Plan could be developed for Gaza. Moreover, the administering authority should be able to monitor all funds coming into Gaza and ensure that they will be used solely for constructive and peaceful purposes and not diverted for the purchase of weapons or instruments of war that can threaten the peace.

Fourth, a system of education that is rooted in teaching coexistence and peace and is coupled with the provision of training in good governance should be introduced, allowing for a cadre of potential leaders representative of the people of Gaza to emerge.

Last, the UN can arrange for free and fair elections to be held, as it did in Namibia.

It is time to take bold steps to spare our world from the ravages of war and establish a lasting peace.

Sovaida Maani Ewing, is Director of the Center for Peace and Global Governance and an author.


  1. Maury Miloff March 11, 2024

    Great idea, and a novel one. Amazing that you are the first one I have read who suggests this. I can see this idea drawing support from many sides..

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