UN Reform & multilateralism August 2021-

Written by  //  April 27, 2022  //  United Nations  //  No comments

UNGA Resolution 377

Unblocking the UN Security Council: The Uniting for Peace Resolution
Andrew J. Carswell
(Journal of Conflict and Security Law) The United Nations Security Council’s recent blocked attempts to address the deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Syria have renewed calls for UN reform. From the Cold War until the present day, the fact that the UN system has failed to live up to the lofty expectations of its framers can be attributed in significant part to the threat and exercise of the veto by individual Permanent Five (P5) members of the Council. This situation can be attributed to an unequal—but politically necessary—compromise that took place between the great Allied victors of the Second World War and the remainder of the UN membership. The result was a division of powers between the Security Council and the General Assembly that has never found a satisfactory equilibrium. In light of this predicament, the author argues that a 1950 General Assembly resolution should be re-examined in the modern context as a possible means of mitigating the bad faith exercise of the veto. The ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution, drafted by a P5 member, revealed the latent powers of the General Assembly existing within the UN Charter to make recommendations in lieu of a blocked Council, up to and including the use of force. However, it went too far when it assigned to the Assembly a role that effectively usurped the primary role of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. When P5 members realized that it potentially restricted their respective sovereign interests, it was relegated to obscurity. Nevertheless, read down to reflect a constitutional balance between the UN’s primary organs, the resolution represents a viable tool capable of overcoming the worst effects of a veto exercised in circumstances that cry out for an international response. (13 August 2013)

UN takes a step towards addressing ‘veto problem’ which stopped it condemning Russia
Emma McClean, Senior lecturer in Law & Aidan Hehir, Reader in International Relations, University of Westminster
(The Conversation) The “veto problem” has plagued the UN since its inception and efforts have been made over the years to reform this. One or another of the P5 – the US, Russia, China, the UK and France – has always stymied those efforts in the past. But now, thanks to some imaginative thinking by the UN General Assembly, there is at least some progress in this area.
From now on, the General Assembly will automatically review any use of the veto by any of the P5. Within ten days of casting its veto, the P5 state is “invited” to justify its use of the veto before the General Assembly.
The problem of the veto has been a bleeding sore for the UN, effectively dashing hopes and expectations of using the United Nations to maintain a truly collective security. While France and the UK have not formally used their veto since 1989, Russia and the US continue to deploy it and China, having only used it once during the Cold War, has used it 13 times since 1990.
Unsurprisingly, there have been numerous proposals to solve the veto problem – most of which got no further than policy exhortations. By contrast, the most recent proposal for a review of veto use – launched in early April – gathered sufficient momentum not only to be debated, but to be “adopted by consensus” – reflecting the agreement of the entire General Assembly – in less than a month.

21 April
‘This is not about Russia, this is about multilateralism’
Christian Wenaweser, Liechtenstein’s UN Ambassador, on how his country’s veto initiative could help restore the United Nations’ effectiveness
(IPS) … The veto initiative is a simple idea, but we think it politically very meaningful. It simply says that every time a veto is cast in the Security Council, there is automatically a meeting convened by the General Assembly to discuss the proposed veto in the Security Council. So it’s an automatic mandate. It’s not subject to any further intervention or decision
We’re doing it because we believe in strong multilateralism. We have followed with growing concern the inability of the Security Council to take effective action against threats to international peace and security due to the very deep political divisions among the permanent members in the Council.
We are concerned about the negative impact that this has on the effectiveness of the United Nations. So if you look at our statements in the last five years or so, we have consistently advocated for a strong role of the General Assembly in matters of international peace and security as mandated by the Charter of the United Nations. This initiative is a meaningful step in that direction.We’re doing it because we believe in strong multilateralism. We have followed with growing concern the inability of the Security Council to take effective action against threats to international peace and security due to the very deep political divisions among the permanent members in the Council.
We are concerned about the negative impact that this has on the effectiveness of the United Nations. So if you look at our statements in the last five years or so, we have consistently advocated for a strong role of the General Assembly in matters of international peace and security as mandated by the Charter of the United Nations. This initiative is a meaningful step in that direction.
What are the chances for this resolution being adopted? There was some speculation that it is going to be discussed this week and there’s going to be a vote in the coming days.
The vote is not going to be this week. This week we will have a formal presentation with the membership. We will then look to get a date in the General Assembly soon thereafter. We are getting a strong positive response to this. So we are very confident that our text will be adopted.

15 April
A U.N. Security Council Permanent Member’s De Facto Immunity From Article 6 Expulsion: Russia’s Fact or Fiction?
(Lawfare) The conventional wisdom says that Russia cannot be expelled from the U.N., let alone kicked off its seat on the Security Council, because it is a permanent member of that council. In the weeks since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, much has been said and written on its legal implications. From an international law perspective, this failure in diplomacy and deterrence is a case study for students and observers of just war theory, economic warfare, “lawfare,” treaty obligations, jus in bello principles of the law of armed conflict, and the effect of modern technology on the proliferation of propaganda and misinformation as well as on the documentation of unlawful use of force in real time. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack has been so explicitly worthy of public condemnation and political sanction that reasonable people might expect that one simple and predictable consequence would be to expel Russia from the U.N., the important international organization devoted to protecting “peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity” across the globe. But the resounding, though reluctant, retort has been to say that such expulsion is legally impossible.
Rather than swiftly dismissing the ability of the U.N. to expel Russia, a close reading of the U.N. Charter’s text and a mostly forgotten decades-old discussion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) may reasonably suggest that the General Assembly does have that legal authority, regardless of any vote taken or not taken by the Security Council.
Can we? and Should we? are, of course, different questions. This post concerns only the narrower subject of interpreting the expulsion provision of the U.N. Charter; it also avoids the distinct legal and policy matter of whether the Russian Federation is, lawfully, a member of the Security Council at all when the charter itself assigned the responsibility to the U.S.S.R. and was never amended to reflect its dissolution.

10 April
After Russia’s Ukraine Invasion, Sharp Focus On Calls For UN Reform
Russia-Ukraine War: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a blistering call for the UN to exclude Russia from the Security Council, asked bluntly, “Are you ready to close the UN”

7 April
‘You don’t resign after you’re fired’: Russia quits human rights council after suspension – video
The UN general assembly has voted to suspend Russia from its leading human rights body over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, which the US and Ukraine say are tantamount to war crimes. Speaking after the vote, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Gennady Kuzmin described the move as an ‘illegitimate and politically motivated step’ and said Russia had decided to quit the human rights council altogether. Under Thursday’s resolution, the general assembly could have later agreed to end the suspension, but that cannot happen now Russia has quit.
Jeremy Kinsman: Russia booted from the UN Human Rights Council – what does it mean? (CTV video)

6 April
What can the UN do to stop war?
Can the General Assembly step in when the Security Council is unable to take a decision on stopping a war?
(New Delhi TV) According to the General Assembly’s 1950 resolution 377A (V), widely known as ‘Uniting for Peace’, if the Security Council is unable to act because of the lack of unanimity among its five veto-wielding permanent members, the Assembly has the power to make recommendations to the wider UN membership for collective measures to maintain or restore international peace and security.
In addition, the General Assembly may meet in Emergency Special Session if requested by nine members of the Security Council or by a majority of the Members of the Assembly.
However, unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, meaning that countries are not obligated to implement them.

15 March
Russia’s veto makes a mockery of the United Nations Security Council
(Atlantic Council) “This is an extraordinary moment,” declared US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield during a recent UN General Assembly (UNGA) emergency special session on Ukraine. “Now, at more than any other point in recent history, the United Nations is being challenged. If the United Nations has any purpose, it is to prevent war, it is to condemn war, to stop war.”
With this purpose in mind, in a sweeping show of international unity, 141 countries voted in favor of an UNGA resolution demanding an immediate end to the Russian offensive in Ukraine. While non-binding and largely symbolic, this overwhelming show of global support for Ukraine came at a time when it was doubly needed, both for Ukraine itself and for the sake of the UN.
Only four countries joined Russia in voting against the resolution. To the surprise of nobody, the list included Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, and Syria. Thirty-five nations abstained.

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