Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

220426 - Statement at adoption of UN General Assembly resolution on the veto initiative


26 April 2022

Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

As Russia’s unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine has painfully illustrated, the international rules-based order underpinning global stability, security and prosperity is under significant strain. 

Together, we must urgently find ways to ensure the United Nations acts effectively and expeditiously to address complex challenges to our collective peace and security.

As a core group member, Australia was very pleased to join more than 80 other states in co-sponsoring this important resolution establishing a ‘Standing mandate for a General Assembly debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council’.

Every year since the UN’s founding, the equity and effectiveness of the veto has been the subject of intense debate. And rightly so.

Too often we see the veto considered by some permanent members to be an unimpeachable right, rather than a solemn responsibility.

Too often we are told that the General Assembly, despite being the most representative UN organ, has no responsibility for international peace and security – that the views of this body, regardless of the number of countries represented, do not carry weight.

In fact, the UN Charter is clear. 

While the membership has conferred upon the Security Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Charter does not preclude the General Assembly from debate and deliberation when the Council is unable to act on behalf of the wider membership.

It is this responsibility that brings us here today.

Australia led opposition to the establishment of the veto at the San Francisco conference.

Since that time, we have consistently called for better standards governing its use, specifically, that the use of the veto be both limited and transparent.

To this end, we remain steadfast supporters of efforts to limit the use of the veto, particularly in situations of mass atrocity, and encourage all delegations to commit to the Accountability Coherence and Transparency Code of Conduct and the French-Mexican initiative.

We consider today’s resolution distinct from, but complementary, to these efforts.

The resolution does not seek to directly limit or curb the use of the veto.

Rather, it is an important and long overdue step towards bringing greater transparency and accountability to the use of the veto.

By providing an open and transparent forum for the veto user to explain its veto and a platform for all member states to express their views, we believe it will help strengthen Council deliberations and decisions over the long-term.

In closing, we very much welcome the overwhelming support for this resolution and express our sincere thanks to the Permanent Representative, and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein for their leadership on this important initiative over the course of more than two years.

We can say that today was a very good day at the office.