A Move to Undermine the Anachronistic Veto Powers in the Security Council Gains Traction

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The five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council (UNSC) – UK, US, France, China and Russia – have exercised their veto powers primarily to protect their own national interests or the interests of their close political and military allies. But a proposed new resolution before the General Assembly (GA)– entitled “Standing mandate for a General Assembly debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council”—is an attempt to undermine the veto in a move likely to be supported by 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 the United States was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, spearheaded by a core group of Member States led by Liechtenstein. “This innovative measure would automatically convene a meeting of the General Assembly after a veto has been cast in the Security Council,” she said. As negotiated in 1945, she pointed out, the UN Charter entrusts in the five Permanent Members of the Security Council the ability to prevent the adoption of a resolution through a veto – a mechanism long the subject of institutional debate. “The United States takes seriously its privilege of veto power; it is a sober and solemn responsibility that must be respected by those Permanent Members to whom it has been entrusted,” she declared.

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