Thursday, 6 February 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
16. Mr. Aylward asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on any proposal which would seek to abolish the veto of the permanent five countries at the UN; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3218/97]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I support appropriate proposals for a limitation on the use of the veto accorded to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council under Article 27 of the United Nations Charter. At a time when there is an increasing and positive trend for issues to be decided by consensus within the Security Council, it would seem both desirable and appropriate that consideration be given to reducing the scope and use or threat of use of the veto in decision-making by the Security Council
In the current negotiations taking place between the member states of the United Nations on the issue of reform of the Security Council, Ireland has made clear that it favours a much more restricted use of the veto power and has proposed several areas where the veto should not apply in council decision making. These include preventative diplomacy measures, the dispatch of UN observers to observe and report to the Security Council, humanitarian measures, including resolutions calling on parties to a conflict to agree  a ceasefire and abide by Geneva conventions, and for the referral of issues to the International Court of Justice.
As well as favouring changes to limit the present practice in the use of the veto, I also believe that in the event of any future increase in the number of the permanent members of the Security Council, the power of veto should not be extended to any such new members. It is clear in current negotiations on this issue that a majority of the UN membership wish to see a more restricted use of the veto and Ireland will continue to support efforts to agree on how this might be done.
It is also evident that an immediate and total abolition of the existing veto powers of the permanent members of the Security Council is not likely, not least since under the Charter provisions this would require the agreement of the permanent members themselves. The provision in the UN Charter regarding the veto was based on the understanding that for the Security Council to act effectively to maintain international peace and security, it would be necessary that its decisions in this regard had the agreement and support of all the permanent members.
Nevertheless this consideration need not be affected by measures of reform, such as those proposed by Ireland, which would restrict the potential use of the veto on issues for decision by the Security Council. Such reforms could serve to make the decision-making of the Security Council more representative of the views of the member states of the organisation, on whose behalf the Security Council acts, under Article 24 of the Charter, in taking measures to ensure international peace and security.
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