From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : UNSC, Veto
Mains level : Veto Power
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.
Why such move?
- The push for reform was driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The measure is intended to make veto-holders United States, China, Russia, France and Britain “pay a higher political price” when they use the veto to strike down a Security Council resolution.
- For years Russia (and the US) has used its veto power to block UNSC resolutions — which, unlike General Assembly resolutions, are enforceable under international law.
What is the Veto Power at the UN?
- The UN Security Council veto power is the power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to veto any “substantive” resolution.
- They also happen to be the nuclear-weapon states (NWS) under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
- However, a permanent member’s abstention or absence does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted.
- This veto power does not apply to “procedural” votes, as determined by the permanent members themselves.
- A permanent member can also block the selection of a Secretary-General, although a formal veto is unnecessary since the vote is taken behind closed doors.
Issues with Veto Power
- The veto power is controversial. Supporters regard it as a promoter of international stability, a check against military interventions, and a critical safeguard against US domination.
- Critics say that the veto is the most undemocratic element of the UN, as well as the main cause of inaction on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- It effectively prevents UN action against the permanent members and their allies.
Back2Basics: United Nations Security Council
- The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
- It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
- The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members.
- These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
- The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.