UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Monday urged [press release] the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council to end the “pernicious use” of the veto.
At the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council, Zeid asserted his convictions and claimed that the P5 is second only to criminals who kill and maim when it comes to responsibility for some of the world’s most egregious rights violations. “So long as the veto is used by them to block any unity of action, when it is needed the most, when it could reduce the extreme suffering of innocent people, then it is they—the permanent members—who must answer before the victims.”
The permanent members of the UN Security Council consist of the US, UK, France, China and Russia, which all maintain the right to veto any substantive resolution.
While Zeid did not identify a specific veto, the comments alluded to the ongoing war in Syria, where both Russia and China have repeatedly used the veto to block efforts to try war criminals and enact sanctions against the Syrian government.
Zeid praised France for its leadership among the P5 in championing a code of conduct on the use of the veto, of which the United Kingdom has joined, and is now backed by 115 countries. The code would prevent the use of the veto in atrocity situations.
“It is time, for the love of mercy, that China, Russia and the United States, join them and end the pernicious use of the veto.”