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Countries Will Have To ‘Justify’ Veto Votes at UN

Context:

The 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution requiring the five permanent members of the Security Council to justify their use of the veto.

Relevance:

GS II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why such move?
  2. What is the Veto Power at the UN?
  3. United Nations Security Council

Why such move?

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueled the reform movement.
  • The measure aims to make veto-wielding countries such as the United States, China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom “face a larger political price” when using their veto to block a Security Council resolution.
  • For years, Russia (and the United States) have used its veto power to prevent UNSC resolutions, which are enforceable under international law unlike General Assembly resolutions.

What is the Veto Power at the UN?

  • The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who also happen to be nuclear-weapon states (NWS) under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), have the power to veto any “substantive” resolution.
  • However, a permanent member’s abstention or absence does not prevent a draft law from being adopted. This veto ability does not apply to “procedural” votes, which are decided by the permanent members.
  • A permanent member can also veto the appointment of a Secretary-General, though this isn’t necessary because the vote is held behind closed doors.

United Nations Security Council

The Security Council is one of the six main organs of the United Nations.

  • The Permanent Residence of UNSC in the UN Headquarters New York City, USA.
  • Its primary responsibility is the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter- Hence, it is the only body of the UN with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • Resolutions of the Security Council are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget.

Membership

  • It has 15 Members (5 as Permanent Members and 10 as Non- Permanent Members), and each Member has one vote.
  • The Five permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each of the Permanent Members has Veto Power over every decision of UNSC.
  • The Ten non-permanent members are Elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of ten in total) for a two-year term. The ten non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis.
  • As per the rules of procedure, a retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election and the election is held by secret ballot and there are no nominations.
  • The presidency of the Council rotates monthly, going alphabetically among member states.

Functions and Powers of UNSC

Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

  • to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
  • to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
  • to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
  • to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
  • to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
  • to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
  • to take military action against an aggressor;
  • to recommend the admission of new Members;
  • to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;
  • to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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