Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam talks about an important development
It was for the first time that the hitherto unchallenged right of Justifying veto granted to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council was held to account by the fellow permanent members. The right to veto was unconditionally granted to the five of the founding members of the United Nations who were the victorious powers of the Second World War though China did not qualify for this privilege as it was not amongst the victorious military powers. The issue of veto assumed tremendous importance during the Cold War when both the superpowers frequently used it to prevent each other from implementing respective policies. The unabashed and arbitrary use of veto power made it the most contentious issue at international level and created more problems than solving them. The resentment caused by this flagrant use of this weapon started to spread widely and there was tremendous furore caused by its usage.
In this context it is reported that at a UN General Assembly meeting, China and Russia explained their vetoes of a proposal that would have imposed new sanctions on North Korea. In a first of its kind United Nations General Assembly meeting, China and Russia defended their vetoes of a strongly-backed US proposal that would have increased pressure on North Korea for its nuclear programme. This landmark session was the first at which permanent members of the Security Council had to explain their use of the veto — a step mandated under a resolution adopted by the General Assembly in April. Earlier, Beijing and Moscow had vetoed a draft resolution in the Security Council that would have imposed tougher sanctions on North Korea in the wake of the country’s recent ballistic missile tests.
This remarkable turnaround was unique in the annals of international diplomacy whereby the UN General Assembly where countries were called upon to explain themselves after vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council. The new meetings were approved at a consensus vote on 26 April, the upshot of international frustration at veto-holder Russia shooting down a series of resolutions about its invasion of Ukraine. Though, the session’s value is almost entirely symbolic, seeing as almost all the UN’s power rests within the Security Council but supporters of the plan said it would at least force veto-wielders to face more global scrutiny when stopping the UN from acting. Currently, five countries — the US, Britain, France, China and Russia — are permanent Security Council members and so can always veto proposals, while the other 10 rotating members enjoy the same power but only when they are taking their turns on the Council. The Soviet Union and later Russia have vetoed the most times at the UN historically, followed by the US.
It is also reported that China’s ambassador to the UN criticised the US approach to North Korea, saying tension on the peninsula has developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip flop of US policies. He added that where the situation goes from here will depend to a large extent on the actions of the US and the key lies in whether the US can face up to the crux of the problem, demonstrate a reasonable attitude, and take meaningful concrete actions. Calling on the US to consider lifting sanctions, the Chinese envoy said that Washington’s efforts to apply pressure on Pyongyang would not achieve any goals. Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, however, stated that new sanctions against Pyongyang would be a dead end. The Russian envoy went on to explain that the current UN sanctions had failed to guarantee security in the region nor moved any further toward settling the nuclear missile non-proliferation issues. The Russian envoy added that anyone who is seriously addressing the North Korean problem has long understood that it is futile to expect Pyongyang to unconditionally disarm under the threat of a spiral of sanctions.
The issue arose in the backdrop of the developments taking place in February, three weeks before Russia’s war in Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow had declared a “no limits” partnership. The vetoes of the two nations on North Korea publicly split the Security Council for the first time since it began slapping sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006. The US raised questions whether China and Russia had put their partnership above global security by vetoing more UN sanctions on North Korea with its senior diplomat pointing out that the US hoped these vetoes are not a reflection of that partnership. He added that their explanations for exercising the veto were insufficient, not credible and not convincing and that the vetoes were not deployed to serve the collective safety and security. During a right of reply in the General Assembly later in the day, Chinese diplomat said China rejected presumptuous comments and accusations against China’s voting position justifying that China’s vote against the US-tabled draft resolution was entirely reasonable and justified adding that continuing to increase the sanctions against DPRK would only make the likelihood of political solution even more remote. TW