General Assembly Holds First-Ever Debate on Historic Veto Resolution, Adopts Texts on Infrastructure, National Reviews, Council of Europe Cooperation
Prior to adopting three draft resolutions tackling infrastructure connectivity, voluntary national reviews and cooperation with the Council of Europe, the General Assembly held its first ever formal debate on the use of the veto in the Security Council, with speakers deliberating the impact of the new transparency and accountability mechanism — enabled by resolution 76/262 — and its role in enhancing the General Assembly’s functions while achieving legitimacy in the use of the veto.
Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, recalling the 2022 historic resolution, stressed: “We are here to figure out the best ways to exploit this new instrument.” Urging Member States to use the debate creatively and constructively by asking tough questions and seeking game-changing solutions, he emphasized that vetoes should always remain the very last resort. Encouraging delegations to go beyond their immediate interests and act responsibly to rebuild trust within the Organization, he added: “Dare to be bold. Dare to bring change.”
In that spirt, the representative of France — a permanent member of the Security Council — proposed that all five permanent members voluntarily and collectively suspend the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities. Pointing out that her country has only used the veto 18 times since 1945 and has not used it in the past 30 years at all, she observed that such a step is based on political commitment and does not require revision of the Charter of the United Nations.
Echoing that, the United States’ delegate also said his delegation was committed to refraining from the use of the veto except in rare, extraordinary circumstances. The mandate of convening a General Assembly meeting every time the veto is cast — established by resolution 76/262 — is a significant step towards accountability and transparency, he added.
Many speakers voiced their support for the France-Mexico initiative addressing veto restraint in cases of mass atrocities and highlighted the importance of Article 27(3) of the Charter, which stipulates that a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.
Such conduct, stressed the representative of Romania, could help avoiding “hostage-like” crises in the Council, with Austria’s delegate emphasizing that Council members should act in concert towards peace and cooperation, leaving their national interests aside. The representative of Bulgaria, however, observed that this has not been the case, adding that amid a difficult geopolitical context the Council is likely to be prevented to exercise its role effectively due to the veto misuse.
The representative of Ireland, recalling his country’s recent term on the Council, not only spotlighted the pervasive, chilling effect of the threat of the veto, which prevented the Council’s action in a number of global crises, but also called it an instrument designed to respond to the geopolitics of a different time.
Similarly, Italy’s delegate called the veto power “anachronistic”, and said that despite its specific historical context, it bluntly contradicts the principle of sovereign equality of States.
Several delegates echoed that position, with India’s delegate pointing out that such an approach perpetuates the mindset of the Second World War. “Either all nations are treated equally in context of voting rights or else the new permanent members must also be given the veto,” he said, a position some delegations expressed, calling for expanding the veto power.
However, others called for limiting this right, including Ecuador’s delegate. Noting the outdated nature of the veto, he said that the use of the veto had not led to a safer world. Thus, that power should not be extended to other members of the Security Council. Rather, the focus should be on limiting its use.
Also noting that the requests to limit the use of veto have never been more vocal, the delegate of the Republic of Korea spotlighted national consequences of the veto blocking the Council’s actions addressing the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles by Pyongyang, which then took advantage of the Council’s silence. As a result, five more intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched.
However, Syria’s representative recalled how the veto of one permanent member ensured the independence of his country, voting against a draft sponsored by France and the United Kingdom, who sought to extend the mandate of their respective troops in Syria. That veto ensured the withdrawal of troops from his country.
Nonetheless, the representative of Switzerland pointed out that resolution 76/262 can also promote the search for unity in the Council. Underscoring the important role that all Member States can play in the decisions of the Security Council, she emphasized: “The veto does not make us powerless.”
Following the debate, the General Assembly adopted three draft resolutions, including a draft text on “Building global resilience and promoting sustainable development through regional and interregional infrastructure connectivity”, and another, “Strengthening Voluntary National Reviews through Country-led Evaluation”, both without a vote. Adopted by recorded vote was the draft resolution on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe”.
The General Assembly will convene next at a time and date to be announced.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, opening the meeting, cited the second United Nations Secretary-General, Dag Hammerskjöld: “Only he deserves power, who every day justifies it.” Recalling that in 2022 Member States came together to adopt the resolution on the use of the veto, he said the new agenda item plays a pivotal role in bringing the Assembly and the Security Council closer together. The first ever formal debate on the use of veto is an opportunity to unify the two bodies with separate mandates and discuss how the new tool can make the ideal of attaining peace and security a reality. The Assembly does not intend to discuss Security Council reform, nor does it want to pit the Organization’s bodies against each other. “We are here to figure out the best ways to exploit this new instrument,” he stressed, while encouraging Member States to use the debate creatively and constructively by asking tough questions and seeking game-changing solutions.
“Dare to be bold. Dare to bring change,” he emphasized. The issue of the use of the veto affects the whole Organization, and the decisions taken — or the lack thereof — reverberate worldwide. Vetoes should always remain the very last resort, he stressed, expressing hope that Council members can go beyond their immediate interests and act responsibly. “That way we will never have to fail back to the veto resolution,” he said. Noting that he will be sending the verbatim records of today’s debate, as well as all future debates on this item, back to the Council President, he urged delegations to be as solution oriented and concrete as possible. Today’s exchange of views cannot be just a pro forma event, or a mere administrative procedure, he stressed. It is an opportunity to rebuild trust within the Organization. More so, it is also an opportunity to “do better for the 8 billion who count on us” to create a world where people can thrive in peace and security.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), also speaking for Estonia and Latvia, said the Assembly resolution, “Standing mandate for a General Assembly debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council”, was a remarkable step towards accountability, legitimacy and transparency in the use of the veto power. That text has already ensured opportunity for collaboration between the Organization’s main organs, he said, spotlighting three times during the past year when the Assembly was obliged to step up after Security Council decisions were impeded by some members who exercised their veto power. These included instances on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea draft resolution, the Syrian draft resolution and a draft resolution on the Russian Federation’s unlawful actions regarding the illegal so-called referenda in regions within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. These Assembly sessions, featuring numerous speakers from a range of countries, have demonstrated that the veto initiative is fulfilling the primary goal of promoting greater accountability for the Council's work. “It provided the General Assembly with the opportunity not only to receive a vote explanation, but also to openly discuss the matter and utilize its authority to the fullest extent,” he said.
“The increased abuse of the veto power further illustrates how Russia continues to hold the Security Council hostage,” he said, adding that the war against Ukraine waged by the Russia Federation — a permanent Council member — clearly exposed the structural and procedural weaknesses of this organ, he continued. Reform of the Council is inevitable and council members, especially permanent members, have a special responsibility. Any permanent member that exercises the veto to defend its own acts of aggression against another Member State seriously undermines the credibility of Charter, the United Nations and the whole multilateral rules-based international system. It should be therefore held fully accountable. “Abusive use of a veto by a permanent member of the Council is also the reason why we cannot assure full accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine in the Security Council,” he said. The veto power is constrained under Article 27(3) of the Charter, which obliges a party to a dispute to abstain from voting. Further, Council members should refrain from using the veto in case of mass atrocities, including the crime of aggression, he stressed.
MARK ZELLENRATH (Netherlands), also speaking for Belgium and Luxembourg, said that, in the face of eroding public trust in the Security Council’s ability to maintain peace and security after the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, the resolution on the veto enhances transparency regarding the Council while simultaneously strengthening the role of the General Assembly. That resolution is a reminder that the veto power is not a privilege, but a responsibility — one that must be taken seriously, because the Security Council acts on behalf of all Member States. The veto initiative, therefore, reminds each permanent Council member that they must face the full United Nations membership to determine whether the use of the veto served to maintain international peace and security.
On that point, he noted that the veto is not always used as it was intended to be, which is especially damaging when it prevents the Council from acting in cases of atrocity crimes. “The 17 Russian vetoes on the situation in Syria come to mind,” he observed. He also called on all Member States to act in the spirit of Article 27(3) of the Charter, which stipulates that a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting. Stressing that the General Assembly has a responsibility to act when the veto leads to paralysis in the Council, he urged Member States to make full use of the Assembly’s powers under the Charter, including making policy recommendations on current and future crisis. The Assembly can — and must — be “more than a forum for mere statements of principle”, he added.
MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), also speaking for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said the use of veto has given the Assembly a tool of accountability and had real political effect on its modus operandi. In one year, three Assembly debates have been held following the use of the veto, in which the veto-wielding Council members participated. In addition, special reports have been produced by the Council following each veto. The initiative has also recalibrated the relationship between the Organization’s two main bodies, reasserting the power of the Assembly on international peace and security, while ensuring more transparency. Noting that the Council works on behalf of the Member States and its decisions affect all members, he said: “[…] it should therefore be held accountable by us all.”
Reiterating the need for further reform to ensure that the veto dos not paralyze the Council, he encouraged Member States to join the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico declaration. He also highlighted the importance and power of the veto initiative, noting that the use of the veto often waters down the Council’s credibility and does little to secure international peace and security. When States are invited to explain their positions in the Assembly, a measure of accountability is evoked, which allows them to have a voice in the common endeavour, he said.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), noting his delegation is proud to have led this process, also observed that the prospect of accountability will not deter every use of the veto. However, it is already showing positive results, he said, adding his hope that it will embolden penholders, in particular elected Council members, to propose texts that meet the expectations of the membership as a whole. The veto initiative also contributes to resetting the power balance between the Security Council and Assembly. While it is not realistic to expect more Council unity in the imminent future, an Assembly, active in the area of peace and security, is key to ensuring the thriving multilateralism envisaged by the Charter. The veto is the most controversial and most debated provision of the Charter. “It is of course also a fact of life and very likely here to stay,” he said, adding its use can be collectively mitigated by taking it to a very different place it has occupied for years in the Council’s practice. The veto must no longer be a permanent threat and possible impediment to the Organization’s effectiveness. Rather, it should fade away into obsolescence through a range of measures. The veto initiative is an essential step on this path.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said that the veto initiative has allowed the United Nations critical work on international peace and security to continue despite paralysis in the Security Council. When parts of the United Nations system are unable to fulfil their mandate, the initiative gives the General Assembly the opportunity to step into the breach, rise above political theatre and protect peace and the Charter of the United Nations. “The Security Council goes on recess, but crises do not — nor can those directly affected by them,” she observed. Stating that the international community cannot allow trust in multilateralism to fade, she underscored that the General Assembly — “where every Member State is a permanent member” — must ensure that the Council’s ineptitude does not bring the whole United Nations system down with it. She therefore urged the Assembly to remain active and creative in preparing itself for a continued, expanded role on issues of international peace and security. She added that small States are the “true guardians of the international order”, offering a corrective to a still impactful “might makes right” mentality.
EDUARDO MANUEL DA FONSECA FERNANDES RAMOS (Portugal), underlining the relevance of the veto initiative, encouraged Member States to consider ways to improve the framework and the application of resolution 76/262. To this end, he suggested taking up the recommendations of the High Level Advisory Board to immediately place before the General Assembly, for action matters on which the Council fails to act. Recognizing that the veto will only cease to exist when all Member States agree to relinquish it, he spotlighted the importance of restricting its use and exercising it in a sensible manner. Further, he expressed support to the France-Mexico declaration and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Code of Conduct on the use of veto, encouraging States to join both initiatives.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia) said it was a former Australian Minister of External Affairs and Assembly President, Herbert Evatt, who at the United Nation’s inception was among the first to question the veto’s equity and effectiveness. For this reason, Australia was pleased to join more than 80 other Member States in co-sponsoring and supporting the consensus adoption of resolution 76/262. There is power in requesting veto users to justify and explain their positions under the Assembly’s full scrutiny. All Member States must have confidence that the Council can respond effectively to threats to, and breaches of, international peace and security. Yet the veto is used too frequently to enable the unchecked abuse of the Charter, including by the very countries that were given the veto. His delegation will continue to look for opportunities to build on this important initiative. To this end, he called for better standards governing the use of the veto, such as the Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative on the suspension of veto powers in cases of mass atrocities.
AHMAD FAISAL MUHAMAD (Malaysia) said that the exercise of the veto by permanent members of the Security Council should be regulated to prohibit its unjustified use or abuse against the wishes of the majority. Further, it should not be used in situations involving mass atrocity crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. He also suggested that, to be effective, the veto should be exercised by at least two permanent members, supported by three non-permanent members and backed by the General Assembly with a simple majority. Pointing out that the Council’s legitimacy and credibility is being constantly scrutinized, he underscored that the organ should not allow the major Powers to overrule the wishes of the majority with a single vote. He stressed that the undemocratic mechanism of the veto runs against the very principle upon which the United Nations was built — equality amongst States. Malaysia, therefore, will continue to work with other Member States towards Council reform, he said.
HARI PRABOWO (Indonesia) pointed out that, since its adoption, two General Assembly meetings have been held under this agenda item. This means that, in the course of one year, two draft Security Council resolutions were vetoed. It also means that the Security Council was not able to exercise its unity in resolving international security issues. Nonetheless, the veto initiative should not only be used to measure how many times the veto is exercised. Rather, the veto initiative should push forward progress in resolving security-related issues and should serve as a tool to build a more transparent and effective work of the Council with the view of strengthening the overall work of the Organization and promoting multilateralism. More so, the veto initiative should improve interaction between the Assembly and the Council, while also reflecting the complementarity of their work. To this end, the deliberations under the agenda item must not be a substitute for the work and responsibility of the Council, he emphasized.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the international community is living in difficult times and the structures built 70 or 80 years ago to promote international peace and security are no longer viable. The Council has been paralyzed by the strategic rivalries of its permanent members and the exercise of the veto. The threat of the veto now prevents the Council from acting on issues such as Kashmir and Palestine. His delegation has supported all efforts for several years to restrict the abuse of veto by any permanent members and joined in supporting the recent veto initiative resolution. Noting that the resolution has had a positive impact, he also added that the issue will have to be an integral part of Council reform. Voicing his opposition to the creation of more permanent members on an expanded Council, he said that more permanent members and more vetoes will likely increase the likelihood of paralysis. Any measures to restrict or constrain the veto must be in line with the rules of the Charter, he added.
SEDAT ÖNAL (Türkiye), pointing out that the General Assembly is the most-representative body of the United Nations, said that it has priority and power over all other United Nations organs, including the Security Council. According to Article 24 of the United Nations Charter, the Council acts on behalf of all Member States and, therefore, it draws its legitimacy from the wider membership. While the Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, defending the Charter and ensuring compliance with international law, it has failed on many occasions to carry out this mandate. The “veto lies at the heart of the problem”, he stressed, noting that its use — or the threat of its use — has frequently halted desperately needed action, with far-reaching consequences. Spotlighting the transparent, participatory debates organized in the Assembly under the veto initiative, he said that the initiative has substantially contributed to improving the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said the adoption of the veto resolution was a historic moment. A game changer, it has strengthened the role of the Assembly without weakening the role of the Security Council. The resolution also has the potential to discourage the use of the veto in the Security Council, he said, expressing hope that it will encourage new habits of dialogue and cooperation in the Council. More so, the veto resolution is fundamentally about strengthening transparency and accountability of the Council. He also noted that the initiative has given wider membership to small States and enabled them to share their views. Urging Member States to support the Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative, he said the veto resolution is a first step to the Assembly’s revitalization. Welcoming the reports of the High-Level Advisory Board, he encouraged States to follow up on these ideas.
FAHAD M. E. H. A. MOHAMMAD (Kuwait) said his delegation supported this unique initiative and remains convinced of the Assembly’s great importance. The Arab region has suffered for decades from the Council’s use of the veto, he pointed out, underscoring that this resolution has strengthened the Assembly’s role. It has increased transparency and accountability and improved relations between the two main bodies. When one of the five permanent members exercises the veto, that member must justify its veto before the Assembly. The initiative also lets Member States make comments about the use of the veto and allows for an exchange of views. The arbitrary use of the veto by many members reduces the credibility of the decision-making process which, in turn, has led to paralysis in the Council. “There has also been a feeling of frustration on the part of the people of the world,” he added. It is necessary to reduce the use of the veto, he emphasized, adding that it should not be used arbitrarily. Therefore, his delegation does not supports the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities, including crimes of aggression, he stated.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) said that the veto initiative is “not just a necessary deterrent, but something much greater”, as it strengthens a central pillar of multilateralism — the role and authority of the General Assembly, the most democratic, inclusive and deliberative body in the United Nations. Observing that the Organization’s history has shown that the use of the veto has not led to a safer world, he opposed extending that power to other members of the Security Council. Rather, the focus should be on limiting its use. The Council should reflect the reality of today’s world, he said — but this does not mean extending privileges to others in perpetuity based on the relationships of power in today’s world. Rather, it refers to the ethical model of the times — namely, democracy based on the principles of rotation and accountability. He therefore underscored the General Assembly’s right to elect Council members periodically based on merit, as enshrined in Article 23(1) of the Charter, with an emphasis placed on countries’ contributions to international peace and security.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) said the veto initiative is the start of a paradigm shift that should continue. It creates a bridge between the Security Council and the Assembly’s activity and fosters accountability among the permanent Council members. “It broke the ice on a long-needed reform discussion,” he added, noting that it also showed the strength and the potential of the Assembly. In this regard, he expressed hope that the initiative will reinforce the voice of the Assembly and act as a moral compass leading to a more responsible use of the veto. He also reiterated Romania’s support to the Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative. Recalling that article 27(3) of the Charter states that “a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting”, he said refraining from the use of veto in such situations could avoid “hostage-like” crises in the Council.
JOCHEN HANS-JOACHIM ALMOSLECHNER (Austria) said the veto will continue to present the multilateral system with challenges, especially in times of disagreement and overwhelming national interests. He called on Council members to consistently implement and observe the provisions of Article 27(3) of the Charter, regarding the participation of Council members when they are parties to a dispute. He reiterated that the wider membership expects, especially in light of Article 24 (1), that Council members act in concert towards peace and cooperation. “There is no place for national interests,” he added. The next step is to ensure the resolution’s full implementation and leverage the momentum, especially in areas where the Council is paralyzed. As seen in Ukraine, there will be times when the Council is unable to fulfil its duties and the wider membership must take an operational role in crisis management. “Our toolbox is well-equipped, including the possibility to send mediators or political missions to areas of conflict,” he added. “Thus, it is not a question of how we could act, but if we act.”
JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico) stressed that the veto power is not a right, but an “exercise of great responsibility”. It is therefore unacceptable for it to be used to curtail multilateral action when the majority of Council members have spoken in one voice. In situations where mass atrocities are being committed, impeding the Council’s response through the use of the veto is not just an abuse of the failure of the collective-security systems created under Chapter VII of the Charter; it is a serious breach of the purposes and principles of the Charter as a whole and a violation of international law. The immediate consequence of this is “none other than leaving entire populations absolutely defenceless”, he said. Noting that the international community continues to witness these types of cases, he invited those who have not yet done so to join the France-Mexico initiative to limit the use of the veto. He also welcomed the six principles of responsible behaviour for permanent Council members to which the United States has committed, expressing hope that the United States and other States will join the France-Mexico initiative as it is fully compatible with the third such principle on limiting the use of the veto.
SANGJIN KIM (Republic of Korea) said that the resolution has provided Member States with an apparatus to seek clarification on situations where the Council has failed to act due to the veto. Recalling that three incidents of the veto blocking the Council’s action took place during 2022, he said the respective cases dealt with weapons of mass destruction, proliferation, humanitarian crisis and unlawful annexation attempts. Last May’s vetoes against a new resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea showed that the veto power can structurally undermine the integrity of the Council. “Those vetoes were ‘self-contradictory’ and even ‘self-destructive’ from an institutional perspective,” he stressed, noting that Pyongyang took advantage of the weakened implementation of the Council’s sanctions and its silence. As a result, five more intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched. The requests to limit the use of the veto and reform the Council have never been more vocal, he underscored, reaffirming his support for the France-Mexico initiative and the Code of Conduct. “The exercise of the veto power does not come without a cost,” he stressed.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) said the use of the veto has left the international community with a Council that is unable to face some of the most pressing challenges of today. It has also undermined the spirit of multilateralism, which is the backbone of the Charter. In the true spirit of effective multilateralism, the veto resolution strengthens the Charter’s principles by providing a voice for all Members States and requires an explanation of their actions by those Council members that hold the right of the veto. “It also reminds us that with the veto comes a responsibility,” she said. She said that calling a debate of, and by the Assembly, to discuss veto use is not calling for a change in the use of the veto. That discussion remains in the hands of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Council Reform, which remains fundamentally crucial to overall pleas for reform and revitalization of the United Nations. She also underlined her delegation’s call for respect of the Charter’s Article 27, paragraph 3, which provides that a party to a dispute should abstain from voting in decisions on the pacific settlement of disputes.
ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines) said that no Member State should be granted the special privilege to exercise the veto power, as this contravenes the principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. “It would indeed be a challenge to remove the veto privileges of the permanent members,” he noted, but urged the pursuit of every effort to curtail its use. Otherwise, the Council’s efficacy and efficiency will always be under threat, especially at times of great geopolitical rivalries. Noting that the veto initiative contributes to addressing this issue, he pointed out that it renders the convening process automatic and mandates the President of the General Assembly to convene a formal meeting after a veto has been cast. The automatic nature of this mechanism — along with placing responsibility with the President, and not the membership itself — “has the tendency to reduce the power of Member States”, he said. Regardless, he urged those present to find ways for this exercise in the General Assembly to produce concrete outcomes that can enhance the credibility and efficacy of the United Nations.
SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) said that as a founding member of the United Nations her country has based its international behaviour on the defence of the Charter’s fundamental principles. Recalling that Colombia has been a non-permanent Council member seven times, she said it promoted resolutions on peacebuilding and the rule of law, among others. The Council is the epicentre of decision-making, and all members must have an opportunity to participate in it on an equal footing. The 15-nation organ needs to reform to manage its decisions and actions in a timely fashion, she added, noting that the use of the veto is an “anti-democratic mechanism” that has caused a lack of multilateral response to the situations of genocide and territorial integrity of States. To this end, Council reform should not extend the right of the veto to new permanent members, she stressed, while supporting the instruments limiting its use. The veto is a prerogative that must be limited and subject to the highest standards of transparency when it is used, she added.
YASEEN LAGARDIEN (South Africa) said it is essential that resolution 76/262 not be seen as an interim measure that replaces the urgent need for Council reform to address its structural issues. Efforts for Council reform must continue. The Assembly holds an essential role as it is the most inclusive and democratic institution of the United Nations. Under the Charter’s Article 10, the Assembly can discuss any matter. The Assembly needs to be able to hold the Council accountable and when the Council is deadlocked, the Assembly must break the deadlock and not perpetuate the crisis. The Council acts on behalf of the broader membership of the Organization. Therefore, the Assembly must lead the international community in reforms of the Organization and must consider practical ways to make changes. There should be momentum to reform the Council and a process must be built to revitalize the Assembly. The reform of the Council is necessary so the Assembly does not have to resort to piecemeal approaches to increase its transparency, he stressed.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) said that the Security Council’s inability to effectively respond to certain major threats to international peace and security is due to the persistent deadlock inside this geopolitically polarized organ, which is “incapacitated by the constant threat of a veto from some of its permanent members”. The veto initiative is a good first step to restoring things to their correct order — namely, all Member States’ ownership of the United Nations. Stressing that the Organization’s universality remains its major asset, he underscored that 193 Member States cannot be restrained by a Council dismantled by one or more of its permanent members “acting as a judge in their own case”. The General Assembly, therefore, must become the true centre stage for a comprehensive debate on central issues. This is especially crucial in light of “rogue” permanent Council members, he noted, spotlighting the Russian Federation’s continued aggression against Ukraine in blatant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and numerous General Assembly resolutions. He added that the Russian Federation has “played the notorious role of a veto-caster” over the past year on other issues, such as those relating to Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) said that the veto power in the Security Council is often abused to cover up serious breaches of the Charter. The new mechanism — established by resolution 76/262 — contributed to strengthening of the Organization’s system and promoting multilateralism, he underscored, noting that its activation twice during 2022 with regard to the situations of international peace and security confirms its importance. He welcomed the “Uniting for Peace Resolution” mechanism, noting it has proved valuable in the political response to the Russian Federation’s vetoes regarding its aggression against Ukraine. The veto power is anachronistic, he continued, adding that, despite its specific historical context of 1945, nowadays it bluntly contradicts one of the fundamental principles of the Charter: the principle of sovereign equality of States. While Italy does not expect the permanent five Council members to renounce their privilege of the veto, he said these States must act responsibly and provide a full explanation to the whole membership in the Assembly when they cast a veto.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) pointed out that the veto initiative has increased the transparency of the use of the veto. Through the special reports provided for in the resolution, not only is the Assembly informed, but the Security Council itself has communicated, albeit disunited, on the substance. She also noted that, as an elected member of the Council, Switzerland is dedicated to strengthening and sustaining this transparency. Resolution 76/262 can also promote the search for unity in the Council and underscored the important role that all Member States can play in the decisions of the Security Council. “The veto does not make us powerless,” she stressed, adding that all Member States, whether they are on the Council or potential members, can make a choice to act — in particular by joining the Code of Conduct. Citing the Swiss writer Friedrich Durrenmatt, she urged the Assembly to never stop “imagining the world as it would be most reasonable”, emphasizing: “We must continue to imagine that world and make it real through our actions.”
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Ireland) said that the use of the veto — “an instrument designed to respond to the geopolitics of a different time” — today undermines the Council’s ability to deliver on its responsibilities. The continued use of the veto undermines the Council’s credibility and legitimacy from within and, while Member States endlessly debate Council reform inside the walls of the United Nations, those outside have increasingly concluded that the Council is not fit for purpose. He pointed out that, over the past year, the veto was used four times to block Council action on issues including the authorization of life-saving cross-border aid in Syria and the continued proliferation of illegal, provocative missile-related activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Further, the Russian Federation has twice used the veto since launching its illegal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, “in a shameful attempt to evade accountability for its own military aggression against a fellow member of our United Nations”, he noted. Recalling Ireland’s recent term on the Council, he also spotlighted the pervasive, chilling effect of the threat of the veto, which prevented the Council from acting on situations involving Palestine, Myanmar and Afghanistan. Against that backdrop, he underscored that “reform of the veto power is overdue”.
MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) said the Security Council needs to better reflect the United Nations today by including geographically diverse perspectives to respond to twenty-first century challenges. This is imperative for the Council’s continuous relevance and credibility. The standing mandate to convene a General Assembly debate, whenever the veto is cast, is a significant step towards accountability and transparency, he added. Turning to the implementation of resolution 76/262, he recalled the United States’ constructive role in the preparation of the first Council’s special report in 2022, drafted during its Council presidency. Voicing disappointment about the vetoes cast, he welcomed the report prepared by the Council each time it happened and the consequent Assembly’s debate to discuss these votes. The permanent five Council members must exercise their veto authority responsibly, he said, stressing that any permanent member that uses this right to defend its own acts of aggression should be held accountable. To this end, the United States will refrain from the use of the veto except in rare, extraordinary situations, he said.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic) said frequent use of the veto is one of the causes of the Security Council’s increasing inability to carry out its responsibilities. Voicing his support for initiatives, such as the France-Mexico initiative on veto restraint in cases of mass atrocities, he condemned in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine and urged the Russian Federation to reverse its unlawful act and to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine. He also welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to issue the arrest warrants against Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and that country’s Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. The blatant disregard for the Charter by a permanent Council member highlights the urgent need for a multi-layered system that would ensure accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The Council’s unique responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security goes hand in hand with its relationship with the Court as defined by the Rome Statute, he pointed out.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia) said when the veto initiative was adopted a year ago, the Assembly hoped it would not have to be used too often. Since April of last year, four vetoes have been used, blocking three initiatives in the Council. The Assembly in turn convened to discuss the situations that led to the veto’s use in the Security Council — twice in Assembly regular plenary sessions and once in the Eleventh Emergency Special Session. The veto initiative gave the Assembly’s wider membership a greater voice in Council matters when the Council is prevented from taking action by one of its permanent members. As intended, the veto initiative contributed to greater accountability for the decisions taken, or not taken, in the Council. At the same time, it did not hinder its work and functioning or its key role, within the United Nations system, for the maintenance of international peace and security. The initiative undeniably contributed to strengthening effective multilateralism and is a good example on how to bring about positive institutional change within the Organization in the field of peace and security.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) noted that, due to the veto initiative, the permanent members of the Security Council now assume a higher level of accountability that is commensurate with their heavier responsibilities. The veto is such a powerful prerogative that a permanent member of the Security Council must exercise it with the sole purpose of maintaining international peace and security. The Council’s difficulty with making decisions due to the excessive use — or threat of use — of the veto on important issues defies the high expectations of the United Nations membership and undermines the organ’s legitimacy, she stressed. She therefore welcomed commitments by France, the United Kingdom and the United States to voluntarily refrain from the use of the veto except in rare and extraordinary circumstances, expressing hope that the other permanent members will join them in this regard. Also underscoring the need for further Council reform, she called for an expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories and stated that new permanent members should have the same responsibilities and obligations as current permanent members.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile), noting that resolution 76/262 is the right approach to strengthening the Organization, welcomed the fact that it has created an accountability mechanism. States have an opportunity to know the reasons behind the veto and to better understand the international circumstances and the motives behind it. The veto is not a privilege but a prerogative that should be used responsibly. Expressing regret about its use in 2022, he appealed to the permanent Council members to show the political will and abstain from using the veto. Resolution 76/262 is also an opportunity to improve communication between the Council and the Assembly, he said, underscoring that it is not a part of the Security Council’s reform process. In this regard, the use of the veto must be seen as a part of a comprehensive United Nations system reform. As a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group, he endorsed the Code of Conduct and urged the permanent members not to use the veto in the cases of genocide and related atrocities. Expressing support for the France-Mexico declaration, he said it complements the Code of Conduct.
MARTIN JUAN MAINERO (Argentina) pointed out that the veto has become a privilege for the five permanent members of the Security Council, which has resulted in an organ characterized by inequality and inefficient in addressing issues of international security. Opposing the veto, he said the privilege violates the principle of sovereign equality among Member States by implying that a State that holds such privilege has the right to overrule the will of the other members of the Organization. Further, it is an inefficient tool, as the Council cannot maintain international peace and security when conflicts involve a permanent member. In the short-term, this means that the United Nations cannot ensure such peace and security and, in the long-term, it damages the Council’s image and the collective-security system enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. Underscoring that the veto must only be used as a last resort, he said that providing an explanation regarding its use to the General Assembly reinforces the complementary relationship between the two bodies. Adding that “efficiency and the veto are mutually exclusive”, he stressed that the international community should not expand the defects already existing in the Council; rather, the use of the veto should be limited.
YURI ARIEL GALA LÓPEZ (Cuba), calling on the Assembly to fully assume its role, pointed out that the Council is increasingly expanding the scope of international peace and security to the detriment of the Assembly’s functions and responsibilities. The provisions of operative paragraph 4 of Assembly resolution 76/262 on the permanent inclusion of the agenda item on the use of the veto can in no way be interpreted to the detriment of the indissoluble links which exist between the five issues of the intergovernmental process on Council reform. The question of the veto must not be considered separately from other issues, he underscored, cautioning that doing otherwise will not achieve comprehensive Council reform. At the same time, special reports of the Council to the Assembly should not be limited to instances when a veto has been cast. He also reiterated his call for urgent, broad and sweeping reforms of the Council to make it representative, democratic and transparent.
DIARRA DIME LABILLE (France), noting that the veto is not a privilege and should not paralyze the Council, said her country has only used it 18 times since 1945 and has not used it in the past 30 years at all. Recalling that the President of France reiterated the need of limiting the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities, she said that in 2013 France proposed the five permanent Council members to voluntarily and collectively suspend the use of veto in such cases. This step does not require revision of the Charter but political commitment, she stressed, adding that her country has been applying this conduct since 2016. Turning to the France-Mexico initiative, supported by 106 countries, she urged Member States to support it. Noting the commitment of the United States to reduce the use of the veto to rare, exceptional situations, she said France stands ready to define modalities to trigger the veto suspension. More so, she expressed support for the expansion of Council members in the two categories and called for negotiations.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria) said that the adoption of Assembly resolution 76/262 was a message that deliberate obstruction of action by the Security Council when faced with threats to peace and security could not and would not be tolerated. Noting the positive impact of the measure in increasing transparency and accountability, she said that the veto initiative has had preventive power, by increasing the political cost of casting a veto. She called for strict implementation of Article 27(3) of the United Nations Charter, that a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting, pointing out that this has not, unfortunately, been the case. Amid a difficult geopolitical context, it is likely that the Council will continue to be prevented to exercise its role effectively due to the misuse of the veto. On such occasions, it is necessary for the Assembly to have an avenue to take action, as when the Council fails to act, it is perceived as a failure of the United Nations, not just the Council.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) pointed out that the casting of a veto is not a display of power, but an act of weakness which shows the caster of the veto has failed to convince others of its position. The veto initiative was and remains a significant achievement, which has contributed to wider United Nations revitalization efforts and strengthened the credibility of the Organization and wider multilateral system. In the year since adoption of resolution 76/262, it has been activated “sadly, two times too many”, she said. Stressing that the veto is the most undemocratic element of the United Nations, she said her country has been a vocal opponent of the use of the veto since its inception in 1945, and its position that the veto should never be used remains unchanged. There has never been a greater need for innovation and creativity to secure the central place of the United Nations in addressing the collective challenges facing the international community, particularly as they relate to international peace and security. For this reason, New Zealand actively supports initiatives such as resolution 76/262 and participates in the work of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group.
RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia) observed that while Member States two days ago commemorated the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, today they gather to talk about the veto power — “the power to impose unilateralism in the Security Council granted to five Member States 78 years ago”. The veto power is a heavy responsibility to act in the interest of securing peace and security for people worldwide. It shall not be used to render the Council dysfunctional or serve as a tool to pursue the vetoing State’s own political interests. The Russian Federation’s abuse of the veto, in a position of an aggressor, is simply unacceptable and in stark contrast to its responsibility as a permanent Council member. The standing mechanism for the Assembly when a veto is cast in the Council has not impaired the Council’s primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security. On the contrary, it has created additional pressure to conduct consultations and negotiations among Council members, thus contributing to veto restraint. He called on States who have not yet joined the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative to do so.
JUAN ANTONIO BENARD ESTRADA (Guatemala), stressing that the reality of different conflicts and the misuse of the veto as a result of ideological positions have made clear the need for structural changes, pointed out that the full implementation of resolution 76/262 does not change the underlying problem. Nevertheless, it helps to demonstrate the need to democratize and increase representation so that the maintenance of international order does not fall solely on the unilateral decision of a few States. At the same time, Member States must continue every effort to carry out comprehensive discussions on Council reform, which should include the implementation of measures to prevent and mitigate the irresponsible use of the veto. That privilege does not conform to the current geopolitical reality, he reiterated, spotlighting his Government’s support in the intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform on restricting its use in the case of mass atrocities or crimes against humanity. Council working methods must be more transparent and open to the entire membership, he emphasized.
MICHAEL HASENAU (Germany) said that, unfortunately, the Security Council presidency has not always heeded the call under article 4 of resolution A/RES/76/262 to report on any use of the veto. The issuance of vetoes in May, July and September 2022 blocked action on matters of vital importance: peace and security in Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East and non-proliferation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Moreover, the Russian Federation also violated Article 27(3) of the Charter of the United Nations, which states that “a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting”. With a growing number of States opposing the veto power, Member States must do what they can now to advance beyond the resolution adopted by consensus last year. Germany strongly supports the France-Mexico initiative on veto restraint in cases of mass atrocity as well as the Code of Conduct with the aim to define criteria for veto use, he said, noting his delegation’s support as well for all attempts to ensure consistency with the principles of the Charter, including its Article 27(3).
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) stressed that, while the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security lies with the Security Council, when the Security Council cannot act, the General Assembly must. The most inclusive and representative organ of the United Nations should strive to ensure transparency and accountability and insist that Member States explain and persuade instead of block action with vetoes. For this reason, her country joined more than 80 other countries in co-sponsoring the veto resolution, she said, noting that the General Assembly must ensure that the veto, which comes with extraordinary responsibility, is used wisely. The veto resolution must be viewed as part of a general goal of greater accountability, transparency, coherence and collaboration among the principal organs of the United Nations, she added, pointing out that the overuse of the veto paralyzes the Organization at a time when multilateralism is needed more than ever. “The veto resolution was an innovation that helped our institution function better,” she said, affirming her country’s continued support. She called for ideas around further innovation to strengthen the General Assembly and the United Nations as a whole.
PHILIP REED (United Kingdom) pointed out that the Russian Federation’s use of the veto in February 2022 preventing the Council from taking action in response to its illegal war in Ukraine came just two months after it vetoed a resolution that would have enabled the Council to take action on climate security — a resolution that counted the highest ever number of co-sponsors. Since the veto resolution, the General Assembly has met in response to vetoes, including when the Russian Federation vetoed a resolution that sought to extend humanitarian assistance to over 4 million people in north-west Syria — only to accept a resolution days later with one change: permitting humanitarians to provide help for 6 months instead of 12. “Is that what the veto was created for? Halving the window for providing humanitarian assistance to people who desperately need it?” he asked. The United Kingdom has not exercised its veto since 1989 and listens carefully and negotiates with Council partners to try to find agreement. It remains committed to never voting against a credible draft resolution on preventing or ending a mass atrocity, as a proud signatory of Code of Conduct, he added, encouraging all Member States, including other permanent Council members, to support this initiative.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania) said resolution 76/262 provided a mechanism to promote accountability, while also including the entire membership in respective discussions. Pointing out that the Security Council’s special reports are a good example of transparency, he said Albania will work with other Council members to reflect this practice in the Council’s annual report. He observed that the veto initiative has been effective in fostering dialogue and cooperation among Member States on issues that had been exclusively in the domain of the permanent Council members. The Assembly debates — whenever the veto is cast — provide Council members with “food” for their decision-making, he added, noting that the mechanism also plays a deterrent role in limiting States’ ability to the use of veto. By facilitating open and constructive debate, the initiative can help build consensus and improve the Organization’s functioning, he stressed. Expressing support for the France-Mexico initiative, he spotlighted the importance of Article 27 and endorsed a more substantial and meaningful role of the Assembly in addressing the issues related to international peace and security.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said the right to use the veto has represented a cornerstone in the international balance of Powers, protecting the international order from arbitrary decisions taken by one or more countries. Casting a veto has not been a problem in itself; rather, the problem is in the modality and political mindset involved. The United States and its allies have stood against all drafts aimed at curbing settlement projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and enforcing relevant Council resolutions, despite Article 25 of the Charter. He recalled that the former Soviet Union, in 1946, cast a veto in support of the independence of his country, voting against a draft sponsored by France and the United Kingdom, who sought to extend the mandate of their respective troops in Syria. The Soviet Union’s veto took down the draft, which led to the full withdrawal of troops. By contrast, some permanent Member States act like the Council is an incorporated company and they are on its board; such behaviour makes the veto “a must”. Turning to the veto initiative, he said that his country supported it to make the Council more transparent and to enable the Assembly to learn the rationale of a veto-casting member in an objective fashion, rather than using it as a platform to attack a single country or lead to unjust polarization.
JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic) said that every day that passes shows that the veto’s use has proven itself to be ineffectual. This unfortunate situation should give Member States pause for thought, not because they want to relieve the Council of its responsibility but rather because they should enable the Assembly to seek realistic and just solutions to discharge its responsibility in an effective, relevant, non-discriminatory and person-centred manner. In that regard, the Assembly must be open to considering and assessing the Council’s work, she stressed, voicing her Government’s support for the full implementation of the Code of Conduct on the use of the veto. There must be no room for pressure from the threat of a veto within the Organization, she added. Going forward, Member States should continue to consider the various proposals which have been articulated, including the power to reverse a Council veto in the Assembly.
PRATIK MATHUR (India) pointed out that all five permanent members of the Council have, over the past 75 years, used the veto to achieve their respective political ends. This aligns with the view of African delegates who said during the Intergovernmental Negotiations that vesting the privilege of the veto to only five Member States goes against the concept of sovereign equality of States and perpetuates the mindset of the Second World War. “Either all nations are treated equally in context of voting rights or else the new permanent members must also be given the veto,” he said. Noting that the exercise of the veto is driven by political considerations, not by moral obligations, he underscored that, as long as it exists, Member States who can exercise the veto will do so, irrespective of the moral pressure. Therefore, he underscored the need to address all five aspects of Council reform, including the veto question, through clearly defined timelines in the Intergovernmental Negotiations process.
RAWA ZOGHBI (Lebanon) said that, far too often, the Security Council, entrusted with the maintenance of international peace and security, has failed to deliver on its mandate. The veto or threat to use it has been an impediment to maintaining security and to achieving peace. She expressed support for two initiatives to promoting necessary accountability: the France-Mexico declaration on veto restraint in case of mass atrocity crimes and the ACT Code of Conduct calling on all Security Council members to not vote against any credible draft resolution intended to prevent or halt mass atrocities. While underscoring the relevance of the veto initiative, she stressed that it will not stop inaction and will not be sufficient to put an end to conflicts and daily violations of international law.
JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar) noted that the General Assembly has prerogatives regarding the maintenance of peace and security — and it is high time it carried out that role to make it possible to discuss cases where the veto is used. It is absolutely crucial for the Assembly to consider issues the Council cannot address because of the use of veto, in order to carry out the most important mission for which the organization was established. When resolution 76/262 was adopted, his delegation reaffirmed that it does not seek to trample on the prerogatives of the Council; it deals with the veto purely under the remit of the Assembly, per the mandate conferred upon it by the Charter of the United Nations. The resolution does not undermine the Intergovernmental Negotiations under way on reforming the Council or the right of use of the veto, nor does it prejudge the outcome of those negotiations. Qatar endorses the France-Mexico initiative regarding restraint on veto of mass atrocity crimes, as well as the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, he said.
KHRYSTYNA HAYOVYSHYN (Ukraine) pointed out that almost every draft resolution the Security Council attempted to adopt since 2014 in response to the Russian Federation’s aggression against her country was blocked due to the former’s abuse of the veto. The most recent example occurred in September 2022, as the Council addressed Moscow’s attempt to annex Ukraine’s sovereign territory. On that point, she recalled that the “lonely hand” raised by the Russian Federation’s representative against the draft resolution testified to the fact that — even when isolated — that country can block the Council from exercising its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. She therefore urged fine-tuning the Assembly’s mechanism in response to the use of the veto, stating that the Council’s submission of a report on such use should occur whether the Assembly choses to hold a debate or meet in an emergency special session to address the issue. She went on to underscore that the use of the veto should be restricted when a permanent Council member is directly involved in a conflict under the organ’s consideration, as it cannot be expected to exercise its voting rights and privileges in an impartial manner in such a situation.
DAVID ABESADZE (Georgia) said lately it has been evident more than ever that the Council is failing the entire membership to deal with the violations of the Charter of the United Nations. The Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine is the latest litmus test of the inability of the Council to effectively fulfil its main role — first to prevent, and then to stop the war and the bloodshed. “All this comes down to the detrimental effect of the abuse of veto right by a permanent Member,” he asserted. However, before Ukraine, there was Georgia — a country which in 2008 experienced the inability of the Council to act. To avoid the repetition of the same scenario in the future, the Council must be reformed, and first and foremost, address the issue of the use of veto, he underscored.
SIARHEI MAKAREVICH (Belarus), noting that the issue of the veto is inextricably linked to reform of the United Nations system, said that such reform is important and in the interest of all Member States. A comprehensive solution should be found for current disagreements, and the existing format of the Intergovernmental Negotiations must be maintained, as any arbitrary changes to its modalities would impact the reform process and the integrity of the United Nations system. Serious disagreements in the use of the veto are fundamental in nature, with none of the proposed solutions having tangible support, he said, pointing out that these facts clearly underscore the need for a consistent movement towards compromise to achieve a mutually acceptable solution. The veto should not be viewed as a privilege of individual countries, but a particular responsibility of permanent members for the maintenance of international peace and security. The use of veto, enshrined in the United Nations Charter, serves as an important instrument to develop balanced decisions. Talk of direct discussions based on a text is premature, given that negotiations have not reached maturity, he said, citing a proverb: “Don’t rush ahead.”
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) said the resolution encourages greater cooperation and compromises within the Security Council. However, the Assembly does not have the powers under the Charter to compel States to act, and therefore effectiveness of the resolution will largely depend on the willingness of Member States to meaningfully engage with it. More fundamentally, the veto is not a privilege, but an international responsibility to be applied only in exceptional circumstances, in the interest of international peace and security. He emphasized that the Council should — in all its engagements, including use of the veto — be accountable to the Assembly even without this resolution. Kenya subscribes to the Common African Position espoused by the Ezulwini Consensus, to remedy the historical injustices of nonrepresentation and under-representation of the continent in the permanent member category and non-permanent member category respectively. That Position is clear: If the veto is to be retained in a reformed Council, it must be extended to new permanent members with all its attributes, including the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that Member States should not lose perspective that the veto initiative is limited in nature and will never be an appropriate response to the lack of effectiveness of the Security Council — which stems from its lack of appropriate representation and legitimacy. Any attempt to improve that 15-nation organ must have reform as its overarching frame for discussion, as it will not be fit for purpose as long as developing countries remain sidelined, and whole regions such as Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean are not permanent members. Expressing support for the France-Mexico initiative, he stressed that any further regulation of the veto must be discussed in tandem with other clusters of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on reform. However, he affirmed that in itself, use of the veto is not a failure to maintain peace and security, as it is enshrined in the Charter to contain excesses of power taken by one or a number of States. While its use may cause frustration, it can help foster dialogue and negotiation. He noted that its consistent use can be understood as an expression of the great divide that harms Council efficiency, as it is cast only when diplomacy and dialogue have failed.
Action on Draft Resolutions
KRZYSZTOF SZCZERSKI (Poland), introducing draft resolution “Building global resilience and promoting sustainable development through regional and interregional infrastructure connectivity” (document A/77/L.59), said the text highlights systemic approaches to infrastructure and promotes quality infrastructure connectivity, among other things. It also aims to stimulate exchange of experience between different regions, such as the Three Seas Initiative which was launched by 12 European countries in 2015. More so, the resolution aims at closing connectivity divides and filling the infrastructure financing gap with the help of public and private funds, technical cooperation, and skills development and capacity-building in developing countries. Developing infrastructure of quality means ensuring its compliance with the highest technical, environmental and labour standards, he added.
The representative of Pakistan, speaking in explanation of position before the vote on “L.59”, voiced his support for the draft and underlined the need for a major transition to sustainable infrastructure in the energy, transportation, housing, communications, industrial and agricultural sectors. Noting that $100-120 trillion must be invested in such infrastructure over the next 30 years to create zero-emissions globally by 2050, he said that, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the current infrastructure funding gap is over $2 trillion annually — two thirds of which is in developing countries. Welcoming the draft resolution’s commitment to realizing sustainable infrastructure and regional connectivity, he also praised its expression of concern over economic losses due to rising disasters. On that point, he noted that, due to the 2022 floods in Pakistan, his country will require $15 billion for reconstruction and another $15 billion to ensure that new infrastructure is resilient.
The Assembly then adopted “L.59” without a vote.
By that text, the General Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to developing quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all, also committing to enhancing infrastructure connectivity as a means to build resilience to future crises. The Assembly further called for efforts to promote regional and interregional economic integration and cooperation, as well as reiterating its call for States to ensure the normal functioning of open markets, global supply chain connectivity and cross-border travel for essential purposes. Among other terms, the Assembly additionally called on the United Nations system and all relevant stakeholders to support the capacity-building of developing countries in their efforts to close the Sustainable Development Goals investment gaps.
Following that, the Assembly adopted “Strengthening Voluntary National Reviews through Country-led Evaluation” (document A/77/L.64) without a vote.
By that resolution, the General Assembly encouraged all Member States to use evidence from evaluations of the Sustainable Development Goals implementation for decision-making and reporting on their progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda — including in their voluntary national reviews, as appropriate. Among other provisions, the Assembly also requested United Nations agencies to provide support at Member States’ request regarding such States’ efforts to undertake evaluations of the implementation of the Goals and to facilitate exchange of experiences and knowledge products from those evaluations.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said that her delegation was pleased to join consensus on “L.59”. Quality, reliable and sustainable infrastructure is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and the United States will help meet these needs with transparent investments in projects that deliver real economic benefits while safeguarding workers’ rights. She also reiterated her country’s position that trade language negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council “has no relevance” for the United States’ trade policy under the World Trade Organization — including calls to adopt technology transfer that is not voluntary or done on mutually agreed terms.
JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland), introducing draft resolution “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe” (document A/77/L.65), said the cooperation between the two institutions is characterized by a long tradition and a shared vision on the promotion and protection of human rights. He observed that, based on the previously agreed text from resolution A/75/264 — adopted by consensus in 2021 — Member States reached compromise on several issues. However, no consensus was achieved on preambular paragraph 9, which calls for a strengthened cooperation between the two international organizations, “notably in order to promptly restore and maintain peace and security based on respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of any State.”
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said that his delegation cannot support the draft resolution in its current form because of preambular paragraph 9, which has nothing to do with the topic of the text and is highly politicized in nature. Such politicization is proof of Western countries’ willingness to damage the clout of regional organizations and cause a rift in the General Assembly that could have been avoided. He therefore urged all responsible members of the international community to vote against including such paragraph in the draft resolution.
The representative of Venezuela expressed regret that the sponsors of “L.65” chose to include elements that lack consensus, which could lead to further tension and division. She called on responsible members of the international community to end this type of approach, expressing hope that, when this item returns to the General Assembly’s agenda in 2025, the proponents of the text will resume good-faith negotiations to forge unity in the Assembly.
A recorded vote was requested on preambular paragraph 9 of draft resolution “L.65”.
The Assembly then adopted by a recorded vote preambular paragraph 9 with 81 votes in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Sudan, Syria), with 48 abstentions.
A recorded vote was requested on draft resolution “L.65” as a whole.
The Assembly adopted by a recorded vote “L.65” as a whole with 122 votes in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Russian Federation and Syria), with 18 abstentions.
Through its terms, the General Assembly encouraged the United Nations and the Council of Europe to strengthen their cooperation at all levels to effectively address a variety of topics, including the COVID-19 health crisis, promotion of democracy and the rule of law, prevention of torture, fight against terrorism, human trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence, the promotion of the freedoms of expression and of thought and the promotion of gender equality. Among other provisions, the Assembly invited the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the Council of Europe to combine their efforts in seeking answers to global challenges, also calling on all relevant United Nations bodies to support the enhancement of cooperation with the Council of Europe as set out in relevant resolutions.
The representative of Cuba, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said he was unable to support the draft resolution because of the divisive text in its introduction. Noting that a divisive vote does not lead to promoting cooperation, he expressed hope for a consensus text that sets aside controversial issues that should be discussed in other spaces.
The representative of Mexico explained that his Government voted in favour of “L.65” because it is convinced of the importance of cooperation between the Organization and regional entities. Notwithstanding Mexico’s active participation in the discussions of the Council of Europe as an observer State since 1999, his country abstained on preambular paragraph 9 since the situation in Ukraine and Georgia does not fall within the sphere of cooperation. He also voiced his regret that the text’s substance has been sidelined and reiterated his call to avoid including outside issues.
The representative of Iran, on preambular paragraph 9 of “L.65”, recalled his delegation’s position regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Disputes must be settled peacefully in accordance with international law, fully respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States. He said that, as the inclusion of such paragraph falls beyond the resolution’s scope and lacks impartiality, his delegation abstained from voting on the draft resolution as a whole.
The representative of Senegal expressed disagreement with the use of certain terms in certain paragraphs within the draft resolution. Disassociating from such terms, he said that the concept of “gender” — and all terms associated therewith — are understood by his country to “constitute the relationship between men and women”.
The representative of Hungary said that language in operative paragraph 17 referencing the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence cannot be interpreted as a commitment by States to sign that instrument if they have yet to do so. Government action — not the ratification of a treaty — is what addresses violence against women, she underscored, adding that Hungary cannot support calls for signature or ratification of this Convention.