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President: Mr. Opertti...................................................................(Uruguay)
The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.
Agenda item 59 Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters
Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) (interpretation from Arabic): Item 59 of the agenda, “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”, is an important item that is relevant to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. The reform and expansion of the Security Council should indeed be a priority for Member States, as it constitutes a very important goal in the effort to further improve and democratize the Organization. In spite of this, I wish to take this opportunity to focus specifically on the working methods and work of the Security Council, particularly the issue of the veto.
In this regard, I would first like to recall what was said by President Arafat during the general debate, on 28 September 1998. In his statement, he emphasized that the complete democratization of this global organization required..
“a solution for the veto question in the Security Council, particularly its frequent and excessive use. Transparency and clear rules of procedure must prevail in the Council. At this juncture, I would like to remind the Assembly that since 1973 our question has been subjected to 21 vetoes in the Security Council by one of the permanent members of the Council, the most recent of which occurred in a period of less than two weeks”. (A/53/PV.18)
The vetoes to which he referred are those cast by the United States on draft resolutions on the question of Palestine and on the situation in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. In addition to those 21 vetoes, if we also include vetoes on draft resolutions related in general to other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the total number would be 35 vetoes since 1973: 35 vetoes in 25 years. During that same period, no other permanent member cast any veto on Palestinian or Middle East issues. The United States vetoes in this regard are tantamount to actually preventing the application of international law and the application of relevant provisions of the Charter, including Chapter VII. In short, this has translated into automatic protection for Israel in the face of the collective will of the international community and in spite of Israel’s continuous violations of international law and of the Charter.
This unique situation raises a serious question. What is the remedy for this indiscriminate use of the veto power? The membership has partly reacted with the convening of three separate emergency special sessions. But the phenomenon has persisted. The situation also raises another question: At what stage, or after how many vetoes in relation the same conflict, does a permanent member become a party to the conflict within the meaning of paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the Charter? That paragraph states that ..
“Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting”.
We believe that the membership should address these and other important questions.
The basic concern in this regard remains whether the United Nations, and specifically the Security Council, can continue to carry out its work and responsibilities appropriately, as specified in the Charter, in the light of this kind of unrestricted use of the veto power by one or another permanent member.