India said that any member of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee can use the veto to block and kill a proposal for want of unanimity, describing as “complex” and “contentious” the issue of veto which has been repeatedly used by China to block India’s bid to designate Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Participating in the informal meeting of the Plenary on the Intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that by a procedural stratagem, veto has been expanded to all members of subsidiary bodies of the Security Council, rather than being subject to restraints.
He said in the UNSC Sanctions Committee, any “member can block or object or place on hold, any request of a Member State, thereby in effect killing the proposal on grounds that unanimity is required. The use of the veto has been extended to the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council, eg, the Sanctions Committees. In these bodies, the veto has been extended to all 15 members of the Committees. The issue of veto is complex, complicated and contentious, but “then we cannot also allow the veto to have a veto over the process of Council reform itself.
The Indian Ambassador’s remarks on the veto in the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee comes against the backdrop of China, a permanent member of the Security Council, repeatedly using its veto to block India’s bid to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack by JeM against India’s security forces, France is expected to soon move a proposal in the Sanctions Committee to ban the head of the UN-proscribed group.
The proposal, when moved, will be fourth such bid at the UN in past 10 years. In 2009, India moved by itself a proposal to designate Azhar. This was followed in 2016 when India moved the proposal with the P3 – the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of attack on the air base in Pathankot in January, 2016. In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, China always blocked the proposal from being adopted by the UN.
Akbaruddin provided a quick review of the record of the use of veto that indicates the States’ approach to the veto. He said that since the creation of the Security Council in 1946 till today, at least 238 vetoes were cast. As many as 59 vetoes 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. These Member States are now widely regarded as significant participants in maintaining international peace and security rather than threats to international peace and security, as was perceived when their initial applications for membership were vetoed. Further, no less than 18 vetoes were cast to block resolutions against the apartheid regime in South Africa, and 22 vetoes have been cast on Middle East issue, including Palestine. Given the history of such use of the veto, a number of Member States have called for abolition of the veto.
Akbaruddin noted that the names and suggestions calling for abolition of the veto or limiting or curtailing its use to the extent possible, are part of July 2015 document that lists positions and proposals of UN member states on Security Council reform. The position of a number of Member States supporting voluntary restrictions on the use of veto in situations such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and gross human rights violations are also listed in the document. On the issue of Categories of Membership, a total of 113 Member States, out of 122 who submitted their positions in the Framework Document, support expansion in both of the existing categories. In short, more than 90% of the written submissions in the document are in favour of expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership of the Council. We have heard many refer to the need for respect for democratic expressions. Will those who are speaking of democracy be ready to accept this democratic expression listed in a GA (General Assembly) document.
Similarly, on the issue of Regional Representation, India noted that the majority of Member States have called in their submissions for equitable geographical representation and need for addressing the non-representation and under-representation of some regions in the permanent and non-permanent category.
Akbaruddin cited the example of the Asia-Pacific group, where 52 states are vying for 2 non-permanent seats, while in the West European & Other Group states there are 25 members in the pool vying for 2 seats. Put another way, there are more than 3 billion of we the people’ from Asia-Pacific seeking representation through 2 seats with a 2-year term, while people’ from no other region face such daunting challenges in seeking to be represented equitably. He further reiterated India’s support for representation of Africa in the Council in both categories of UNSC membership as well as support for further consideration of cross-regional representation arrangements to ensure that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) find adequate avenues for representation in a reformed Council.