UNGA votes measure in bid to make UNSC permanent members answerable for vetoes

<br>While reiterating its call for a complete reform of the Council, India said the resolution is a “flawed approach is, therefore, an aberration” to the totality of the problems with the Council’s role and powers, but despite reservations, went along with its unanimous adoption by the 193-member Assembly.

The resolution requires the Assembly to meet within 10 days after a veto has been cast in the Council by any of its five permanent members to debate the veto and give the vetoer a chance to speak to it.

The Council will also have to send a report to the Assembly on the veto.

The resolution proposed by Lichtenstein was co-sponsored by over 80 UN members, including permanent members US, Britain, and France.

The other permanent members, China and Russia, did not press for a formal vote on the resolution in the face of the wide support for it and went along with it even though Beijing said it was opposed to it.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative R. Ravindra drew attention to the call of several African nations to abolish the veto powers of the five permanent members or to extend it to all permanent members in an expanded Council.

Without a complete reform, the Assembly can do very little about the veto powers as the permanent members “have a veto over the veto”.

“As rightly called out by our African brothers and sisters, it goes against the concept of sovereign equality of states and only perpetuates the mindset of the Second World War, to the victor belongs the spoils”, he said.

“Either all nations are treated equally in context of voting rights or else the new permanent members must also be given the veto,” he added.

Ravindra said that the comprehensive reform, which the leaders of UN members have mandated, has been blocked by a “vocal minority of nay-sayers”.

“The only way to begin to remedy what ails the Security Council is to make it more representative, credible and legitimate by including more underrepresented voices – including from developing countries and from Africa,” he said.

Those who oppose the reform process occurring in stages are, in this case, advocating a “piecemeal initiative” through the resolution, he said.

Without naming it, Ravindra took aim at a group of countries called Uniting for Consensus (UfC) led by Italy and including Pakistan, calling it “a vocal minority of nay-sayers who have held the entire process of Security Council reform hostage over the last four decades”.

The UfC has blocked the reform process, known as the Inter-governmental Negotiations (IGN), using procedural gambits to prevent it from even adopting a negotiating text to be the basis of discussions claiming that it can only be done after there is consensus on all the issues.

“It is therefore ironical that the same set of Member States who argue vociferously against ‘piecemeal reform’ in the IGN, are today themselves supporting a apiecemeal initiative’, which ignores the root cause of the problem.

“We, therefore, hope that other piecemeal efforts focusing on aspects of category of membership and working methods of the Council would be treated without any double standards and with a similar yardstick in future,” Ravindra added.

At least six members of the UfC, including Canada, Spain, Turkey, and South Korea, joined Lichtenstein in co-sponsoring the resolution.

Lichtenstein’s Permanent Representative Christian Wenaweser said that the resolution was being introduced without affecting the ongoing work of the IGN.

Speaking as the Council is deadlocked on Ukraine by the vetoes of Russia, which has invaded that country in contravention of the UN Charter, he said: “There has never been a stronger need for innovation in order to secure the central role and voice of the United Nations.”

“The veto power comes with the responsibility to work for the achievement of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter at all times,” he said.

Since the UN members have given the Council primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security on their behalf, “the membership should be given a voice when the Security Council is unable to act in accordance with this assembly’s powers and functions”.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed @arulouis)