Staunton, September 16 – Sixty-seven countries, including two permanent members of the UN Security Council (Britain and France), now support the idea that Russia should lose its veto over measures designed to investigate its involvement in genocide and mass murders of civilians, according to Yury Sergeyev, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The Ukrainian diplomat posted that number, which represents a third of the member countries of the United Nations, as well as a map which allows for their identification on his twitter account (twitter.com/Yuriy_Sergeyev/status/643975182973997056).
Significantly, the countries are to be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America, suggesting that this idea is gaining support not in just one place. Equally or even more significantly, three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia of course, China and the US – are not on it.
Moreover, and this may matter more in the coming days as representatives of these and other states assemble in New York for the annual UN General Assembly meeting, some of the countries involved have expressed general support for the idea while others have taken more specific positions, a distinction that is not reflected in the map.
That dimension is likely to be reflected more clearly when UNGA takes up a consideration of Vladimir Putin’s use of the veto to block the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine, an action much evidence suggests Moscow was responsible for.
On September 4, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a Voice of America interview that Russia should lose its veto power in the UN Security Council because of its aggressive actions against Ukraine, arguing that the world would be a safer place if Moscow could not veto resolutions it doesn’t like (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/09/ukrainian-president-says-russia-should.html).
The Ukrainian leader said that “the world has a right to know who’s responsible for [the] disastrous terrorist attack” on the Malaysian airliner in July 2014 and that “if only one country, especially Russia as a permanent UN Security Council member uses its veto” to block the investigation, “this is self-explanatory.”
Poroshenko added that “with its aggression in eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” “Russia ruined the post-World War II global security system,” and that aggression must be repelled and the conditions which have allowed Russia to engage in it must be identified and overcome by the international community.
Many in both Moscow and the West immediately dismissed Poroshenko’s proposal out of hand either because they are convinced that none of the other permanent members of the UN Security Council will agree or because they believe that raising this issue now will only make the current situation more explosive.
But that is a mistake, as the 67 countries now supporting his idea shows. It has been 70 years since the post-World War II “global security system” was set up, and Poroshenko is right to say that Russia and its aggressive actions have not so much called that system into question as shattered it.
Consequently, the world needs to begin thinking about organizational changes for the future. And depriving aggressors, like the Russian Federation, of their veto power in the Security Council must necessarily become an important part of the debate: at the very least, it should be discussed.
The current author raised this possibility in his Lennart Meri lecture in April 2015(youtube.com/watch?v=EJkQmCU5jVM) and provided what he believes is the reason it must be considered in an article for a special issue of Estonia’s “Diplomaatia” journal (diplomaatia.ee/en/article/responding-to-the-new-russian-challenge/).
The relevant passage of that article follows:
“There is no possibility that the world can return to the status quo ante, even if Putin backs down everywhere—something he will not do or, even if he is overthrown, something which no one can count on. The current international order and all its institutions were created at the end or immediately after World War II. These institutions reflected both the power relations, military and economic, that existed at the time and, equally, expectations about what the allies of the end of that conflict would do in the future.
“Those power relations have shifted, and the expectations have not been fulfilled. But now, by his actions in Ukraine, Putin has made a return to the old order impossible, however much those in the quest for “stabil’nost’ über alles” may think otherwise. There needs to be an international organisation in which no rogue state can veto any judgement against itself, no matter how many nuclear weapons it may possess. There need to be political and financial arrangements that reflect the shifting balance in the world between the US, Europe and Asia. And all of those things will require new organisations and a new generation of wise men—and now wise women, as well.
“Putin and Russia must pay a price for what the Kremlin has done, and that price will not be paid just by having them stop doing it. The world needs to remember the 1957 Krokodil cartoon in which a student complains that he has been given a failing grade even though he has admitted all his mistakes. The way ahead is going to be far more difficult than almost anyone now imagines. But the longer these intellectual and political tasks are put off, the more damage Putin will do, and the harder it will be for the West to defend its values and itself in the future.”