Joint NGO Letter to H.E. Mr. John F. Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States of America, on the Voluntary Restraint of the Use of the Veto by the UN Security Council’s Permanent Members

15 September 2014

Dear Mr. Secretary,

This past year has witnessed numerous conflicts across the globe that have resulted in widespread human suffering and the perpetration of mass atrocities. In some of these situations the UN Security Council has acted effectively, but in other cases it has been blocked from upholding its responsibilities. At times the failure to prevent and protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity can stem from the paralyzing effect of the veto.

As a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, the United States has professed commitment to preventing the commission of mass atrocity crimes. The creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board is testament to this commitment. We urge you to strengthen this by publicly declaring that the United States supports voluntary restraint on the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations. We believe the 70th anniversary of the UN next year is an important moment for the Permanent Members to work towards reaching an agreement on this crucial matter.

We also encourage you to personally attend the 25 September Ministerial-level meeting on the veto, which is being co-hosted by the French and Mexican Foreign Ministers during the opening of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly. We believe that signaling your support for this initiative will strengthen the resolve of all Permanent Members of the Council to prevent and respond to mass atrocity situations. It will also send an important message to the broader UN membership about the United States’ commitment to preventing and halting mass atrocity crimes.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  2. Amnesty International
  3. Human Rights Watch
  4. Human Rights Network
  5. International Coalition for R2P
  6. Global Rights
  7. Citizens for Global Solutions
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and other NGOs


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Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
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