The United Nations Security Council:
Its Veto Power and Its Reform
CPACS Working Paper No. 15/1
National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry Author:
The United Nations Security Council [electronic resource]: its veto power and its reform / Sahar Okhovat.
CPACS working paper ; no. 15/1.
Includes bibliographical references.
United Nations. Security Council--Voting.
United Nations. Security Council--Reform.
Military policy--Public opinion.
University of Sydney. Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Dewey Number:
ISBN 9780980828672 (e-book)
The United Nations Security Council: Its Veto Power and Its Reform CPACS Working Paper 15/1
Author: Sahar Okhovat
Copyright © 2012 Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
First published 2012, by:
The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia
Published by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, The University of Sydney. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the permission of the author.
“I would like to thank the Directors of Major issues and Theology Foundation, for their comments, support and for providing the opportunity to do this report. The Hon. Robert Hill, former Australian ambassador to the United Nations and Professor John Langmore, the President of the United Nations Association of Australia, contributed considerably to this report. I am grateful to them for their time and helpful comments. I would also like to express my gratitude to Professor Jake Lynch, the Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Mr. Robert Newton, former Australian Ambassador to Egypt and the current Vice-President of Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network, for their assistance with the conduct of the interviews and for their invaluable comments”.
The United Nations Security Council, the principal organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security, has been faced with criticism since its establishment in 1946.
Critics and politicians alike have criticised this Council for its small size and exclusive nature, its relations with the General Assembly, its working methods, and its undemocratic structure.
The most criticism has been directed at the infamous “power of veto”, namely the ability of the five permanent members of the Council (USA, Russia, France, UK, and China) to quash any non-procedural matter with their negative vote, irrespective of its level of internationals support.
Since the establishment of the Security Council, permanent members have used their power of veto in accordance with their national interests. The use of that power rapidly distanced from the initial reason for which it was included in the UN Charter, namely preventing the UN from taking direct action against any of its principal founding members. One can argue that after the end of the Cold War and because of the elimination of ideological divisions among the superpowers, the veto has been cast more sparingly. However, a look at the use of veto in the last two decades reveals that although being cast less often, the veto is still exercised for self-interest or the interests of allies. Over the last 20 years out of a total of 24 vetos, 15 have been used by the USA to protect Israel (see Table). Moreover, we should not overlook the influence of the “pocket veto”, so called because on many occasions permanent members managed to keep an issue off the Council...
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