Abolish UNSC's veto power

LETTERS: THE time has come for the United Nations (UN) to treat all its members equally by removing the veto power.

This is the view, especially after the United States vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council (UNSC) recently that called for the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza.

The brief draft resolution, proposed by Brazil, condemned the Oct 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas.

It also called on all parties to comply with international law and protect civilian lives in Gaza amid the bombardment by Israeli war planes. Twelve of the council's 15 members approved the draft on Wednesday, with the United Kingdom and Russia abstaining. However, the US vetoed it.

Given what had happened in Gaza, many saw the UN as failing its role as a global peacemaker that could bring unity to all countries.

Thus, for the UN to stay relevant, it must abolish totally the veto power of its permanent members: the US, the UK, France, Russia and China.

For many years, veto power has been abused by these permanent countries to serve their interests, resulting in major issues and conflicts to remain unsolved.

The longest is the Palestinian issue. It has continued for 75 years because the US used its veto power to prevent condemnation against Israel for its acts of terror and aggression in the Palestinian-occupied territories.

The veto power has also affected Malaysia.

In 2015, Russia used its veto rights in the UNSC to block a five-nation proposal, initiated by Malaysia, to establish an ad hoc criminal international tribunal to try those responsible for the downing of Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine. A total of 298 people, including 43 Malaysians, were killed in the tragedy.

Another example was the inability of the UNSC in 2014 to adopt a resolution that would have referred Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the crimes it had committed despite repeated appeals by senior UN officials.

On that occasion, Russia and China vetoed the proposed resolution.

The resolution, backed by the other members of the council, would have given the ICC the mandate to investigate the horrific crimes committed during the course of the conflict in Syria.

Since March 2011, the war-torn nation has witnessed the deaths of more than 100,000 civilians, the displacement of millions and widespread violations of human rights.

These are only a few examples of the use of such special power given to the five permanent members.

The UN is an intergovernmental organisation created in 1945 to promote international cooperation, replacing the ineffective League of Nations (1920-1946), which failed to stop the atrocities of World War 2 (1939-1945) resulting in millions of casualties.

At the beginning of its creation, the UN had 51 member states, and now there are 193 members.

The world body is supposed to maintain international peace and security, promote human rights, foster social and economic development, protect the environment, and provide humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disasters and armed conflict.

It will be difficult to implement these objectives if the UN cannot treat all its members equally and fairly.

Therefore, the time has come for the UN to act decisively to remove the veto power along with other provisions under the UN Charter that can be interpreted as differentiating or giving special treatment to any particular member of the body.


Associate Professor, Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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