Should UN Security Council Veto Power be Abolished?

The United Nations Organization officially came into being in 1945 to replace the defunct League of Nations, which failed to stop the Third World War, which claimed about 47 million lives.

The charter of the United Nations was drafted by 50 governments in San Francisco, United States, on June 26, 1945, and officially came into effect on October 24, 1945.

The major purpose of the global body is to ensure world peace, security, and cooperation among all nations with a view to stopping major global crises or another world war.

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In order to achieve its mission and objectives, it is made up of different arms. One of those arms is the United Nations Security Council, which is the most powerful organ. The organ is made up of fifteen members: five permanent members and ten non-permanent members.

The five members are the major five powers that fought for victory in the Second World War. They are: the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France. The non-permanent members are elected for a term of two years based on regional arrangements.

The Security Council is the most powerful organ in the UN because it is the only organ vested with the authority to enforce resolutions made by member states on any global issue.

The council can enforce resolutions by authorizing military action, like in the cases of the Gulf War in 1991 and the Korean War in 1950. It also has the power to send peacekeepers to any troubled area and can also deploy sanctions. In a nutshell, it is the “punching arm” of the United Nations.

Each of the five permanent members of the council is given the privilege of using veto power, which is the nub of this article.

Veto can simply be defined as the special power given to each of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to block the implementation of a decision of the council.

When a member vetoes a particular decision of the body, such a draft decision would not be adopted or implemented. The origin of the veto power can be found in Article 27 of the UN Charter.

The use of veto power by any of the five permanent members of the council has been determined by the political interests of such members, not minding the grave consequences such veto power would have.

The members have been sacrificing global peace and security on the altar of selfish political interests through the use of veto power at the security council.

The consequences of veto power have been very weighty and serious. When any of the five permanent members exercises their veto power, it cripples the activities of the United Nations to a large extent because it blocks resolutions that could have served as a means to quench a crisis or avert a situation that could escalate into a full-blown crisis.

Veto power can block international aid, sanctions, the deployment or extension of peacekeeping forces, and the resumption of peace discussions, among others.

Examples of How Veto Powers Have Reportedly Undermined International Peace

There have been a lot of instances where permanent members have used veto power to satisfy their interests to the detriment of world peace and stability.

Some of those situations led to massive loss of life and wanton destruction of property. For instance, the defunct Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan in late December 1979, much to the consternation of the whole world. 

The Soviet Union took this unpopular action to lend support to the country’s Communist government, which was on the warpath with anti-communist Muslim Mujahideen fighters. The matter was debated in the Security Council, and other members opposed it, but the Soviet Union vetoed the members’ decisions to pull out of Afghanistan.

The war, which lasted for ten years, led to the deaths of about 14,000 Soviet troops and hundreds of thousands of Afghan guerrilla fighters. It led to a massive humanitarian crisis.

Another example was the case of Macedonia in the 1990s. The Security Council sent the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) to restore peace and stability in that area.

In 1999, several stakeholders were taken aback when China voted for the extension of UN peacekeepers stationed there. During that period, it was very obvious to observers that the situation in the Balkans area was still very volatile and unstable; thus, there was a need to keep the peacekeepers there. But the veto of China led to the dismantling of the peacemakers.

As predicted, the exit of the UN troops further destabilized the area as armed conflicts erupted again, thereby jeopardizing the progress that had already been made by the UN peacekeepers.

The issue of Jerusalem was another global scenario where veto power was wrongly used in 2017. On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the relocation of the United States Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that was against the global status of the city (the EU states and most countries in the world want East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state).

Most countries in the world kicked against this move by the United States. Members of the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly against it, 128 to 9. However, as expected, the United States vetoed the move to reverse the decision at the Security Council. The matter further complicated the Middle East crisis.

In the Syrian crisis, China and its ally, Russia, vetoed 16 draft resolutions pertaining to that deadly conflict. The vetoes stopped the condemnation of war crimes perpetrated by some Syrian leaders. Some of the vetoes also stopped the prosecution of war crime suspects at the International Criminal Court.

In February last year, Russia invaded Ukraine illegally and without any tangible reason. When the matter was discussed at the Security Council, Russia vetoed the decision calling for the cessation of the senseless war.

The war that is going on now has led to some of the most devastating events in the world, as more than five million people have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grand. Several thousand people, including women and children, have died.

Should the Veto Power be Abolished?

With these few examples, no vestige of doubt can disprove the fact that veto power in the United Nations has been more of a curse than a blessing. It is the greatest albatross affecting the mission and vision of the United Nations. In a nutshell, it is one of the biggest threats to world peace. It has rendered the United Nations a toothless bulldog in many critical situations that have led to massive losses of lives and property.

A lot of stakeholders have been saying that the veto power must go if the United Nations really wants to achieve its objectives. The Security Council should remain with permanent members, but with no veto power by any of them.

During the 77th section of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, called for the abolition of the veto power, saying that the world powers that have the privilege are misusing it to advance their selfish interests.

Describing the veto power as the biggest problem in the UN, he said that it is not democratic as it goes against the principles of democracy. He also said that the veto is a great asset to world peace because it makes conflict resolution impossible for any member of the Security Council.

The Malaysian Prime Minister is right; the security council should continue to remain the police of the UN with equal votes by members. There should be a reform where a decision would be reached by a two-thirds majority vote or a simple majority vote, and it must be binding on all members.

Author: pqrmedia
I am a professional journalists with years of experience. My aim in life is to educate people through well researched contents

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