United Nations: India has reaffirmed that new permanent members in a reformed Security Council must get veto power but suggested that its use be deferred to a review conference as "a willingness for compromise".
"Our own national position has been and remains that the veto should as long as it exists be extended to new permanent members," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said here yesterday.
"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," he said.
A review conference is a platform provided by the UN Charter for the member states to discuss changes to any reforms achieved in the near-term, and for revisiting negotiables that cannot be agreed upon. India has in the past also said that it would consider deferring the use of the veto until a future scheduled review conference. Given the hard lines among member states on the use of the veto and differences among them over the issue, Akbaruddin asserted that the issue of veto cannot be allowed to block the process of Security Council reform itself.
"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," he said during the informal plenary meeting of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on 'Question of Veto'.
Akbaruddin appealed to the chair of the IGN to consolidate the negotiating text on the basis of convergence reached on issues so far while also delineating the divergence and the contrarian view of some. He stressed that that chair should ask member states to build further on the consolidated and shortened text.
Giving an elaborate historical perspective on the use of the veto in the 70-year history of the UN, Akbaruddin said from the time the Security Council was created in 1946 till today, 317 vetoes have been cast and as result 230 draft resolutions or parts thereof have been vetoed in total. In effect, 10 per cent of the 2271 resolutions adopted till date have been vetoed.
He further underscored that apart from the use of the veto within the Security Council, there have been expansion of the veto to the Council's subsidiary bodies such as the Sanctions Committees. He said 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.
Akbaruddin remarks come against the backdrop of China, a permanent UNSC member with veto power, blocking India's move last year in the UN for action against Pakistan for the release of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi from jail.
"As the well-known idiom goes, 'if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck.' Yes... 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," he said.
He stressed that given the history of the use of veto, it is not surprising that a significant number of member states call for abolition of the veto or to limit and curtail its use to the extent possible. Several other member states also 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. While some member states belong to the school of thought that restrictions should be placed on the use of the veto, there are others who want no restrictions to be placed on the veto, Akbaruddin said.
"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," he said.
Aligning India's position with the L69 group of developing countries, as well as with the G-4, Akbaruddin said the two largest groups of Africa and L.69 are of the view that the veto should be abolished but as 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".