Thursday, February 26, 2015

United Nations Security Council Veto

On Monday in Parliament I moved a motion stressing the superiority of collective security through the United Nations over unilateral action. In my speech I drew attention to the increasing level of global violence and asked the question, why doesn't the United Nations do more to make civilians safe?

The answer I gave was that the permanent members of the UN Security Council, who have a veto power over UN action, are prepared to turn a blind eye to, to cover up, the sins and misdeeds of their allies and supporters. I urged that we be less fatalistic about the conduct of the big powers, and demand that they allow the United Nations to do its job of protecting civilians.

I therefore welcome the call by Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Salil Shetty, in Amnesty's Annual Report for the UN Security Council to adopt a code of conduct agreeing to voluntarily refrain from using the Veto in a way which would block Security Council action in situations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Secretary-General notes that such a step could save many lives, and that the proposal is now backed by 40 governments. He said the Security Council’s permanent members were using their power of veto to “promote their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians”.

Amnesty International's 2014/15 Report documents a frightening catalogue of human rights abuses and increasing global violence. It describes 2014 as a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights, and those caught up in war zones. It's findings are consistent with those of the Institute for Economics and Peace, which found that since 2000 there has been a five-fold increase in the number of people killed by terrorism.

We can do better than this. The permanent members of the UN Security Council should stop using their veto to try to gain strategic advantage for their country, and start using the United Nations for the purpose for which it was established - to protect civilians and prevent conflict.

The Hon. Kelvin Thomson

Federal Member for Wills

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