At UN, Veto Under Spotlight

 U.N. member states voted Tuesday to hold the five permanent Security Council members more accountable when they cast their vetoes. 

The General Assembly adopted the draft resolution by consensus – or without a vote. It was put forward by Liechtenstein and co-sponsored by more than 100 countries.

The resolution requires the president of the General Assembly to convene a meeting of the 193 U.N. member states every time one or more of the five permanent Security Council members casts a veto. The assembly would then hold a debate on the situation on which the veto was cast, and those who vetoed would be invited to address the assembly to explain their action.

The five permanent Security Council members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The U.S. and Britain were among the co-sponsors of the measure. Russia’s representative said after the adoption that his delegation had “no desire to join the consensus.” 

“The veto power comes with the responsibility to work for the achievement of the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter at all times,” Liechtenstein’s ambassador, Christian Wenaweser, said in introducing the text. He said the entire membership should be given a voice when the Security Council is unable to act.

The veto has been cast 295 times since the U.N. was created in 1945. The USSR/Russia has cast most of them. Britain and France have used it the least, last in 1989. It has stalled action most recently on Ukraine, but also for the last decade on Syria’s conflict, as well as crises in other parts of the world. 

While the resolution was adopted without a recorded vote, several delegations said they were abstaining, and at least one, Belarus, said it was disassociating itself with the outcome.  

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