September 23rd, 2011
04:33 PM ET

Debate: Is it time to veto the U.N. veto?

By Ishaan Tharoor, TIME

The fitful Palestinian approach to the U.N. Security Council will be, as all have known for a long time, stillborn. The near certainty of a U.S. veto in defense of Israeli interests has made the Palestinian gambit for statehood recognition more about ritual symbolism than any real process. This when, according to a BBC poll, the majority of global public opinion is firmly behind recognizing a separate, sovereign Palestinian state. The U.S. veto, wielded in opposition to a generally-held international consensus, is then perhaps the most unilateral gesture one can make at the world's most multilateral institution.

Why in the 21st century should anybody still have the right to do this?

Sure, the veto came into existence in large part to persuade some of the 20th century's great powers to commit to the United Nations and its structures. It made sure that countries as mighty as the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. could exert their muscle diplomatically rather than elsewhere—in the U.N.'s six decades of existence, the veto has been invoked almost 300 times.

But the world is far different than what it was at the end of World War Two and the U.N.'s major decision-making body—the Security Council with its five veto-wielding permanent members — is a reflection of a long-lapsed status quo. It's possibly the most glaring anachronism in international affairs.

Do the U.K. and France—shorn of their empires, great armies and mired in debt-ridden Europe—really both deserve vetoes? If Russia is a permanent member now, why isn't India, with its far larger population and more dynamic economy?  And what about Japan and Germany, two of the world's most important economies, still kept at arm's length in this forum because of their being on the losing side of a war fought some seven decades ago. There's no shortage of nits to pick.

Read more at Global Spin


soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. KRM1007

    The Security Council members members need to go. They have failed to be taken seriously. There should be a new council headed by Pakistan which has contributed the most and sacrificed the utmost to world peace in this century. Time has come to recognize Pakistan and be the torch bearer of the new world order.

    September 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    The structure of the Security Council is dated and needs reforms.

    September 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      The veto power of the permanent members is highly questionable, as one could prevent the adoption of any substantive resolution, regardless of the level of international support for it.

      September 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  3. rkmkb

    The bitter truth is that the Arab heart (and certainly the Palestinian one) will NEVER come close to accepting anything in relation to what the Hamas Charter calls "the Islamic Waqf" (or domain) of Palestine until the last Jew is floating face-down dead, his payes (sidelocks) swirling in the waves of the Mediterranean off the coast of the pulverized former city of Tel Aviv. The Security Council veto is the UN's only protection against its endorsement of the Islamo-fascist dream of a Judenfrei Middle East.

    September 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Reply

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