The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution to counteract the use of the veto by the Security Council’s permanent members. The decision, introduced by Liechtenstein and supported by Germany and several other countries, requires a meeting of the General Assembly within ten days whenever a veto is used in the 15-member Security Council. In the body with all representatives of the 193 countries, the state or states that have used their veto would then have to explain themselves.
The resolution is intended to put further pressure on the veto powers to refrain from their privilege of blocking any legally binding decisions by the most powerful UN body. The United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France, which emerged as the most powerful states from World War II, were given veto power as part of a compromise in establishing the United Nations.
USA and Russia’s most common users
In particular, Russia and the United States have exercised this right since 1946, with a total of over 200 vetoes. China has used it more and more frequently in recent years, albeit much less frequently overall. Britain and France last vetoed it in 1989. Germany, Brazil, India, and Japan do not see the current global balance of power reflected in the Security Council and have been trying to reform it for years.
Most recently, the pressure for a reform of the UN Security Council had increased given the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. As a permanent member of the council, aggressor Russia had blocked all measures to calm the conflict. Calls for sanctions or Moscow’s exclusion from the Security Council grew louder. However, according to the UN Charter, this is practically impossible because Russia could also veto the curtailment of its rights.
Tuesday’s General Assembly decision was not actively opposed by Russia and was even supported by the United States. In front of all member states, the new justification measures may be unpleasant for the veto powers, but their influence will not be curtailed.