New Delhi. 9 March 2016. Statement by H.E. Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations at the Informal Plenary Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on ‘Question of equitable representation on an increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council’ : ‘ the Question of Veto’ (Wednesday, 9 March 2016 Venue: Trusteeship Council )
Let me join my colleagues in thanking you for convening today's meeting of the Informal Plenary of the IGN on the key issue of ‘the Question of Veto’ and for ably conducting this IGN process. I would first like to align my position with the statements delivered by the distinguished Permanent Representative of St. Lucia, on behalf of the L.69 Group of Developing Countries, as well as the statement delivered by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Brazil on behalf of the G-4.
It is evident from the review of positions reflected in the text circulated by the letter of the former President of the General assembly dated 31 July 2015 and today’s discussions that significant convergence exists on some aspects of this intricate issue. As highlighted by Ambassador Rambally, PR of St. Lucia and Spokesperson of L.69 Group that a large number of Member- States including two largest Groups Africa and L.69 as expressed in paragraphs d.2, d.3 and d.4 are of the view that the veto should be abolished but so long as it exists, it should be extended to all members of the permanent category of the Security Council, who must enjoy all prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership in the permanent category including the right of the veto. There are other individual national submissions where similar views have been espoused. Madam Chairperson listening to submissions providing recent examples of the use of the veto we tend to forget the broader record of 70 years. This historical record is illustrative of why many States approach the veto the way they do today.
Let me provide a few facts and figures in this regard:
Since the creation of the Security Council in 1946 till today, 317 vetoes were cast and as result in total 230 draft resolutions or parts thereof have been vetoed. In effect 10% of the 2271 resolutions adopted till date have been vetoed.
Of these 317 vetoes as many as 59 vetoes, or 18% were to block applications for membership to the UN. Vietnam’s application was vetoed 9 times, Italy’s 6 times, Japan, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Ireland, Republic of Korea and Jordan 4 times, Austria and Finland 3 times, and Nepal, Libya, Laos and Cambodia 2 times and Angola, Bangladesh, ,Kuwait, Mauritania, Mongolia and Spain 1 time each. We see that these Member-States are now significant participants in maintaining international peace and security rather than threats to international peace and security as was perceived by one permanent member or other when they vetoed their initial applications for membership.
64 vetoes, or 20%, were on organizational matters, not on issues of peace and security, and of these, 43 vetoes were used to block nominees for Secretary General. This was before the entire process of selection of the Secretary General by the Security Council became translucent and indeed colorful with the use of coloured straw polls.
Over 130 vetoes were cast in the proxy wars that the developing world was dragged into. The veto was used as many as 130 times in matters relating to situations of proxy wars involving developing countries; for instance, 22 vetoes were cast on Namibia alone.
No less than 56 vetoes were cast to block resolutions against the apartheid regime in South Africa (and Southern Rhodesia).
In the vast majority of cases, vetoes were cast by a permanent member alone and only 33 resolutions were rejected as a result of two or more concurring vetoes.
As if the use of the veto within the Security Council was not enough we have seen the expansion of the veto to the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council, e.g., the Sanctions Committees. In these bodies the veto has been extended to all 15 members of the Committees who can block, or object or place on hold any request of a Member State, thereby in effect killing the proposal on grounds that consensus is required. As the well known idiom goes, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck.” Yes, Madam Chair we have by a procedural stratagem expanded the veto to all members of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council far from restraining its use.
Given the history of such use of the veto, it is not surprising that a significant number of Member–States in paragraphs d.30 to d.33 of the text circulated by the former PGA call for abolition of the veto or, if this is deemed not possible, limiting or curtailing its use to the extent possible. We also note that a large number of Member- States in 12 paragraphs d.12 to d.14 and d.16 to d.24 support voluntary restrictions on the use of veto in situations such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and gross human rights violations.
Our own national position has been and remains that the veto should as long as it exists be extended to new permanent members. As a measure of flexibility and willingness for compromise, the use of the veto can be deferred till the Review Conference. The African Union (and this is understandable) does not wish to defer use. The difference, we see, as one of a degree than one of a kind. Madame Chair, We have witnessed again today, like in last two IGN Meetings that significant convergence among positions of Member-States exists. We see that there is a school of thought that says that restrictions should be placed on the use of the veto. There are of course linguistic variations as well as differences of nuances and stresses. The common elements of this school of thought, however, can be clearly identified and consolidated together. There is another school of thought that says that no restrictions can be placed on the use of veto. For them, history stopped in 1945. To them, all subsequent changes: the vast expansion in membership, the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid triumphs, the march of freedom; the growth of equality; all have not happened and should not be taken into account. Multilateralism means nothing; plurilateralism is the order of the day. The majority may not like it; so much the worse for the majority.
the issue of veto is important but then we cannot also allow the veto to have a veto over the process of Council reform itself. I would therefore, request to you to consolidate the text on the basis of convergence reached on issues so far while also delineating the divergence and the contrarian view of some and task Member-States to build further on the consolidated and shortened text. In this endeavour, you can count on our full support. I thank you Madame Chair.