UN Security Council holds debate on its working methods: Seven Member States urge Permanent Members of Security Council to refrain from veto in cases of mass atrocities
On Monday 26 November, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met to discuss the “Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council” and a letter to the UNSC dated 19 November 2012 from the UN Ambassadors of India and Portugal. Both documents pertained to the working methods of the UNSC, in particular to increasing the transparency and efficiency of Council operations.
During the meeting, seven Member States (France, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Switzerland, Malaysia, Slovenia and Spain) discussed the need for the five Permanent Members of the Security Council to refrain from using their veto power in cases when populations may be threatened by genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
Several governments reflected on the draft resolution A/66/L.42/Rev.2, which was taken off the agenda of the General Assembly in May 2012 after portions of the resolution, including a recommendation that Permanent Council Members refrain from using the veto in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, caused significant controversy. At the time, all five of the Permanent Members expressed serious concern with the recommendation, making France’s support for such a measure at Monday’s debate particularly significant.
Several states noted their disappointment that the use of the veto has led to inaction on the part of the Council during crisis situations, and Liechtenstein emphasized the importance that this power “not be used contrary to the very purposes and principles of the Organization”. Without taking a position on whether Council members should refrain from the veto in specific cases, Indonesia called on the Permanent Members to circulate explanations for any use of the veto to all Member States. Russia, on the other hand, stated that the “fundamental” right to veto did not pertain to the working methods of the Council.
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect strongly supports these efforts to urge the Permanent Members of the Security Council to refrain from using their veto power in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Such a pledge would enhance Member States’ 2005 commitment to end impunity, and strengthen the responsibility of States, the international community, the UN and the Security Council to prevent and stop the commission of these crimes.
See the relevant excerpts from Member States or read the excerpts (morning and afternoon) from the meeting.
See a letter addressed to all Member States from the ICRtoP in May 2012 ahead of the General Assembly consideration of a draft resolution on Security Council working methods that discussed refraining from veto in cases of mass atrocities. Read more about the draft resolution and the “responsibility not to veto” on the ICRtoP blog.