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UNSC: No veto powers for new members?

Posted on Jan 21, 11:41AM | IBNS

A senior UN functionary has said that in case of a Security Council expansion, the new permanent members might not enjoy the veto powers as is the case now.

"My guess is in coming years there will be many permanent seats but may be not with Veto," Gillian Martin Sorensen, Senior Advisor at the United Nations Foundation, said here on Saturday.

Sorensen, who also served as UN's assistant secretary general for external relations as well as a special advisor for public policy in the past, was speaking at an interactive session on "UN and the 21st Century: Where do we go from here?" organized by the Indian Federation of United Nations Associations (IFUNA) -- the only body that represents India in the UN forums.

She pointed out that there had been a lot of discussion about India as a permanent member of the Security Council, and said: "The issue of whether there should be another permanent seat had formally come up for debate in the UN at least twice, but there were local political issues (that came on the way)."

Sorensen, though, was of the view that the Security Council could not bring together consensus and therefore, "diplomatic persuasion is everything." She opined that "there is nothing more compelling than the power to lead by example and not by command".

When asked whether this suggested that there was any reconsideration within the UN Organization on veto rights, she acknowledged that there was a growing demand for reviewing the veto powers of the permanent members, but reiterated: ""I don't see the permanent five members giving up with veto or passing it to other country. I do see the possibility of adding additional seats."

In October last year, during his trip to New Delhi, Bonian Golmohammadi, Secretary-General of a UN affiliated body, the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), had advocated long-term removal of veto power in the United Nations Security Council, saying it had been used less over the past 25 years and should be eventually restricted so that countries cannot use it for vested interests.

Sorensen said: "UN is a place where idealism and realism meet... UN is a complex institution." She referred to the fact that the UN secretary generals are not appointed from the permanent five member countries of the Security Council as these countries are considered privileged group.

Sorensen was also asked about the role that UN could play on the contentious issue of overdrawing of Brahmaputra river water due to construction of large number of dams in the upstream Chinese side.

She said beginning with the bilateral issues, the UN can have countries involved and other mediaries "who can help you in environmental issues. UN can give meeting places, experts on environmental issues often useful in bilateral issues." She added: "I would urge India to see if you can meet China in UN with mediator from UN Environment Program."