U.S. Ceasefire Veto Calls for U.N. Security Council Reform

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S., maintain veto power. This power permits any of these countries to obstruct any resolution, regardless of its integrity or significance. Often, these nations exploit their veto power to secure their and their allies’ interests during peace and conflict times.

A historical example of this is the U.S.’s consistent use of its veto power to shield Israel, irrespective of any actions towards the Palestinians deemed inhumane. Events like the Gaza war and allegations of genocide against Israel in the International Court of Justice highlight the pressing need for reform within the United Nations – no nation should have the ability to halt a resolution favored by the majority.

The ongoing genocide in Gaza by Israel is further testament to why Security Council reform is necessary. No member of the U.N. Security Council should possess veto power. A one country, one vote system, where majority rules, mirroring the U.N. General Assembly approach, should be adopted.

Recently (on February 20, 2024), the U.S once again used its veto power on a draft UNSC resolution regarding Israel’s Gaza conflict, eliciting criticisms from both opponents and supporters. It marked the third U.S. veto on a UNSC resolution demanding a Gaza ceasefire. This action occurred a day after the U.S. suggested its resolution, advocating for an interim ceasefire dependent on the release of all Israel detainees in the Palestinian region.

The 15-member council’s vote was 13-1, with the U.K. abstaining, signalling the widespread support globally for concluding the catastrophic conflict causing upwards of 29,000 Palestinian fatalities. The international community has taken issue with the U.S. for seemingly permitting Israel to persist in killing thousands of Palestinian minors, women, and elderly individuals.

As reported by the Xinhua news agency, Zhang Jun, China’s U.N. envoy, articulated “strong disappointment and dissatisfaction” with the U.S.’s veto. “The U.S. veto sends a wrong message, pushing the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one,” Zhang stated, arguing that opposing a Gaza ceasefire equates to condoning a continued massacre.

Similarly, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, argued that the U.S.’s veto marked “another black page in the history of the Security Council.” He accused the U.S. of stalling so Israel could finish implementing its “inhumane plans” for Gaza, such as forcing Palestinians out and “cleansing” the area.

Amar Bendjama, Algeria’s envoy, warned that the UNSC has “failed once again,” implying that this decision could deeply affect the Middle East. He urged the international community to respond to calls for an immediate ceasefire to prevent civilian casualties.

Concerns now arise regarding the extent of U.S.’s support for Israel and its reasons for backing a regime accused of committing genocide unquestioningly. There are also worries about the potential for the Gaza conflict to escalate into a broader Middle East war, leading to further instability and loss of life.