The U.S.’s recent decision to veto a resolution at the United Nations Security Council has thrown the spotlight back onto hot topics like the international organization’s ability to deliver, its inconsistencies, and how superpowers throw their weight around on the global political stage.
The U.N. Resolution Vetoed
In the lone dissenter role, the United States cast its vote against a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution written by Brazil. This proposal was searching for “humanitarian pauses” in the midst of Israel’s razing of Gaza. The 15-strong council saw 12 members casting their votes in support – a tally that surprisingly included countries like France and the United Arab Emirates, not usually counted among such proponents. Nevertheless, Russia and the U.K. decided to sit on the fence this time around, choosing to abstain instead. Given the U.N. Security Council’s rules, the U.S.’s sole dissenting vote led to the resolution’s failure.
- U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed that the resolution lacked mention of Israel’s rights of self-defense.
- The U.S. is clamoring for a bit more time to exercise diplomatic channels. It’s worth pointing out that both President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are involved in dealing with the situation in this specific location.
U.S.’s Diplomatic Dilemma
The U.S. has been catching heat from all corners, principally due to what people interpret as them wanting the best of both worlds. They successfully managed to freeze out Russia in the U.N. General Assembly by stirring up collective opposition against their Ukraine invasion back in February 2022. However, they seem to have stumbled with their recent veto, which has landed them on thin ice. In fact, this could possibly trip up their likelihood of drumming up backing for any future endeavors.
- Richard Gowan, U.N. director at the International Crisis Group, mentioned that Moscow and Beijing might highlight the U.S.’s veto to juxtapose with Russia’s behavior over Ukraine.
- An unnamed African diplomat stated, “The veto told us that Ukrainian lives are more valuable than Palestinian ones.”
- Jeffrey Feltman, a former senior U.S. and U.N. official, indicated that while the conflicts in Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas are distinct, it won’t stop some from drawing parallels.
A History of Vetoes
There are 15 countries making up the U.N. Security Council, right? Of those, five hold a permanent spot: that’s the U.S., Russia, China, France, and the U.K. Pretty cool, huh? And get this, any permanent member can put a halt to any action by the Security Council – they’ve got veto power!
Key Historical Points:
- The first U.S. veto in favor of Israel took place in 1972.
- In the subsequent years, the U.S. has vetoed approximately 48 resolutions criticizing Israel.
- Russia has similarly exercised its veto power to shield Syria and itself, especially regarding Ukraine.
- There is a call to reform the Security Council’s structure, but attempts often face resistance from permanent members. Proposals include expanding the council to 25 members and introducing Germany, Brazil, India, and Japan as permanent members.
Following the U.S. veto, Brazil’s U.N. representative remarked, “Sadly, very sadly, the Council was yet again unable to adopt a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Again, silence and inaction prevailed. To no one’s true, long-term interest.”
The ripple effects of this veto stretch way beyond our backyard, they’re making waves globally. It’s putting international relations, especially between big hitters like the U.S., Russia, and China under the microscope. The U.S.’s recent actions have become a feeding ground for grumbles regarding the patchy use of human rights ideals.
Points of Contention:
- The U.S. veto has been perceived by many as a sign that the lives of Palestinians are undervalued in comparison to other global crises.
- Russia, in particular, sees an opportunity to highlight alleged Western double standards. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called out Western states for their apparent hypocrisy.
- Diplomats from various continents expressed concerns about these double standards, questioning the consistency of U.S. foreign policy.
The recent U.S. veto has exacerbated concerns about global superpowers selectively invoking international laws and principles. As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen, the international community watches closely, waiting for a unified and effective response, with the hope that the global community can transcend political differences and prioritize the welfare of civilians.