Publications

14 Nov 2014
References on the need for veto restraint by the UN Security Council in mass atrocity situations

There have been increasing calls by United Nations (UN) member states for there to be restraint on the use of the veto by the permanent members of the UN Security Council in mass atrocity situations.

French President Francois Hollande increased the visibility of these calls in September 2013 at the 68th opening of the UN General Assembly, when he proposed a "code of conduct" by which permanent members would withhold their right to veto in any mass atrocity situation.

This summary collates references made to restraint on the use of the veto by member states in various UN fora since 2008. During the 29 meetings covered in this summary, 85 states from all regions of the world, representing 44 percent of the total UN membership, have supported the call for restraint on the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations. Liechtenstein was the most vocal supporter, discussing the veto 19 times. Twenty-seven other states discussed the veto five or more times. Among the 25 members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group, 23 have individually called for restraint on the use of the veto in various fora, while Liechtenstein, Maldives and Switzerland have delivered a statements on behalf of the entire group.

During the opening of the 70th UN General Assembly the governments of France and Mexico presented a "Political statement on the suspension of the veto in case of mass atrocities," open to signature by UN member states. As of 21 October, 80 states have signed in support of the statement. At the same time, the ACT Group launched a draft "Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes." As of 21 October, 85 states have signed on to the Code of Conduct.

In total, 112 states, representing 58 percent of total UN membership, have supported the restraint on the veto in mass atrocity situations through their public statements or signatures on the France/Mexico and/or ACT Group initiatives.