United Nations: As differences persist among UN member states on the key issue of veto, India has asserted that the topic cannot be allowed to block the process of Security Council reform and called for consolidating the negotiating text on the basis of convergence reached so far.
"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," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said here yesterday.
Akbaruddin urged the chair of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (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.
Reiterating India's national position on the issue of veto, Akbaruddin said as long as the veto exists, it should be extended to new permanent members in a reformed Security Council.
He further suggested that 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 during the informal plenary meeting of the IGN on 'Question of Veto'.
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 percent of the 2,271 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.
"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.
"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," Akbaruddin said.
Aligning India's position with the L 69 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."
The issue of the veto is among the most contentious and divisive as nations try to move forward on the UN Security Council reform process.
The 'Uniting for Consensus' group, of which Pakistan is a part, said at the meeting that it supports expanding the Council only in the non-permanent category, which makes the question of extension of veto to additional members "irrelevant".
"Permanent membership and veto, in terms and status and power, are symbols of inequality in the Security Council. Therefore, it has been the UfC's principled position to oppose strengthening such inequalities in an expanded Council," Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy Ambassador Inigo Lambertini said in his statement on behalf of the UfC group.
He added that the UfC believes that a Security Council where the critical decisions before it are taken by consensus is the ideal.
"When this cannot be achieved, the majority view, informed and supported by timely and relevant information, should be upheld, rather than be subject to the veto of a few. This would certainly be more representative, democratic, transparent and effective. And it would guarantee the principle of sovereign equality among States," he said.
Noting the "aspiration" of some regional groups for stronger representation on the Council, Lambertini said UfC believes that extending permanent membership with veto power would only make the Council ?more unequal and less effective.
"The alternative of creating new permanent seats without the veto, or with a suspended right to use the veto, presents equal - if not more - prospects of exacerbating disparities and tensions among regional groups and member states," he said.