A move to weaken Security Council Anachronists’ veto power gains traction – Global Affairs

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a Security Council meeting. Credit: United Nations
  • by Thalif Deen (United Nation)
  • Joint press service

But a new resolution proposed before the General Assembly (GA) – titled “Permanent mandate for General Assembly debate when a veto is given in the Security Council” – is an attempt aimed at weakening the veto power in a move likely to win the support of a majority of the 193 member states.

As of last week, the resolution had 57 co-sponsors — and counting.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that the United States was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, led by a core group of Member States led by Liechtenstein.

“This innovative measure will automatically convene a General Assembly meeting after the Security Council has a veto,” she said.

As negotiated in 1945, she pointed out, the Charter of the United Nations grants the five Permanent Members of the Security Council the ability to prevent the passage of a resolution adopting a veto – a mechanism from has long been the subject of institutional debates.

“The United States takes its veto privilege very seriously; it is a sober and solemn responsibility that the Permanent Members have been entrusted to respect,” she declared.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said: When a Permanent Member issues a veto, that member should be prepared to explain why the resolution in question will not further promote the maintenance of peace and international security.

“Unfortunately, not all members of the Security Council share this sentiment. We are particularly concerned about Russia’s shameful pattern of abusing its veto privileges over the past two decades, including its veto power to kill an observer of the United Nations mission in Georgia, prevent measures to account for and investigate chemical weapons in Syria, prevent the establishment of a criminal court over the downing of flight MH-17 over Ukraine, and protect President Putin from condemnation for the gratuitous war and the absurdity of his choice against Ukraine. ”

The General Assembly’s resolution on the veto will be an important step towards the accountability, transparency and accountability of all the Permanent Members of the Security Council, she stated. powers of the Security Council.

Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco who has written extensively on Security Council politics, told IPS that General Assembly Resolution 377, adopted in 1950, empowers the GA to make recommendations for collective action in the event the Security Council fails to act as required to maintain international peace and security.

He pointed out that the General Assembly invoked the resolution four times when a widely supported resolution was blocked by a veto: in 1950, regarding the Korean War; 1981, regarding Namibia; and in 1980 and 1997, regarding resolutions concerning Palestine.

“There is some irony in the United States that is pushing for a more active role for the General Assembly, given that three out of four cases are in response to a US veto. Indeed, over the past 50 years, Washington has been held accountable for more veto powers than any other Security Council member.”

Of the 72 US veto powers on Security Council resolutions, the US was the only country to vote negatively in 63 of them, he said.

Asked about a proposal from an Asian country in the late 1970s to call for a double veto rather than a single veto, Zunes said it was “definitely worth it”. “But since it would require an amendment to the UN Charter, it’s not only likely that Russia will block it, but possibly the United States as well.”

The proposed resolution “decided”, among other things, “that the President of the General Assembly shall convene a formal meeting of the General Assembly within ten working days of the date one or more permanent members of the Security Council has the power to veto. a debate on the situation in which the veto is exercised, provided that the General Assembly does not meet in an Emergency Special Session on the same situation.”

James Paul, author of “Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy and Global Power in the United Nations Security Council,” told IPS that since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, the vast majority of UN member states have insisted on veto power in the Security Council. hobble action to keep the peace. Experts often point out that veto power keeps many important issues out of the way of Council action altogether.

“Although the five Permanent Members with veto power have never agreed to change their veto, the smaller UN General Assembly countries have sought to weaken the veto, through and the act of authorizing a veto and opposing the act of aggression protected by a veto. and other violations of the peace by the most powerful governments,” he argued.

A group of like-minded nations, eager to strengthen international peace and legitimacy (and protect themselves from larger aggressors), have launched the current initiative, based on opposition Russia’s veto of a Council resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

The initiative, he said, would automatically trigger a General Assembly debate any time a veto is used in the Security Council. In theory, a Council debate (though not binding) could discourage a Permanent Member from using a veto. Even if the embarrassment of an argument doesn’t always act as a brake on the arrogance of powerful nations, it’s well worth the effort.

Andreas Bummel, executive director of Berlin-based Democracy Without Borders, told IPS: “We strongly support Liechtenstein’s initiative that the General Assembly meet automatically every time a right is elected. The veto was given in the Security Council.

This will force the permanent members of the council to justify their votes to the world community, he said. The political costs of abusing veto power will increase.

Furthermore, the General Assembly will regularly be able to consider its own measures. This is an important step in the right direction, Bummel said.

“It is very welcome and noteworthy that the United States is one of the co-sponsors of the proposed resolution. Apparently, they were prepared to explain any future use of the veto before the General Assembly and accept its subsidiary liability.”

In the next step, he argues, it should be understood that non-voting permanent members are not considered a veto against resolutions that would otherwise be passed by a majority.

“However, the entire UN setup needs to be reexamined. Everyone knows that it is anachronistic. Ultimately, permanent members need to be prepared to completely waive their veto privileges.”

In an interview with IPS, Paul warned: “We have to remember that Permanent Members have a lot of cards to play with. The United States, by far the most powerful actor on the world stage, wields enormous influence over the majority of Council members. It can often stop or significantly change the action of the Council without having to veto it”.

That is why the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, although initially rejected by the Council, was eventually tolerated by the same Council for many years. In the event that the United States has repeatedly vetoed Council resolutions against Israel, the United States has never had to pay a heavy political price.

He said many observers point out that major powers like Russia and the US consistently act with disdain for multilateralism and little regard for the United Nations and international law.

“So we can question how the United Nations can succeed in a world exposed to such brutal use of violence and national aggravation. Certainly no The answer is easy, but it is clear that those who seek to weaken veto power and expand the potential of international law are on the right track.”

“One day, we can hope, we prevail,” he said..

Meanwhile, the proposed reform of the Security Council has dragged on for more than two decades, with four strong contenders for permanent seats: Germany, India, Japan and Brazil.

But if they are ultimately successful in their efforts, they must accept what is best described as “second-class citizenship”, because the P5 gives no indication that any newcomers enter. Their ranks will be provided with veto power.

However, African leaders have long insisted they would not accept any permanent membership in the UNSC, without a veto.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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