While the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in the country discussing a range of issues from the Kashmir dispute, the Afghan peace process and the present status of refugees, there has been a statement that seems to be overlooked.
The UN chief stated that the veto power by five permanent members at the UN Security Council was against the ‘spirit of equilibrium’ and a sign of global inequality. Guterres might be conscious while making the statement in front of an elite university where students often pose tough questions.
Guterres explained that there was no equality among nations at the international level and that the elimination of inequality would take a long time. He claimed that the UN was taking steps to ensure equality among people and states. The admission by the UN chief is evident that the global body has failed to resolve contentious issues.
The United Nations was formed after the Second World War with the purpose to ensure international peace and security. The Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the UN which has far-reaching powers including imposing economic sanctions and even authorising military interventions in other countries. It is also the only UN body whose resolutions are binding all other member states.
The Security Council comprises of the victors of the Second World War and the allied powers gave themselves a special power; the right of veto. The permanent members – USA, UK, Russia, France, and China – have the authority to use the veto power indiscriminately and without any explanation. To date, over 250 resolutions have been vetoed in the UN Security Council. Russia has vetoed 110 resolutions while the US has made full use of the veto power over resolutions critical of Israel. UK and France have vetoed 30 and 16 resolutions respectively, while China has vetoed 13 times including those supportive of the Kashmir dispute.
There has been intense debate over the veto power and efforts to reform the UN Security Council have yielded no results. The body now remains a remnant of the Cold War era and does not represent global dynamics and current geo-politics. Many countries such as India, Brazil, and Germany have called for expanding the number of permanent members, while countries having the veto power are reluctant to share it.
Many issues such as Palestine and Kashmir remain inconclusive due to the rampant use of the veto power. As the UN chief said ‘Power has to be taken, it is not given’. The UN should revisit the veto power and bring much-needed reforms to the Security Council. The outstanding issues will only be resolved when there is equality among nations.