5 things to know about France and the veto power [fr]
In order not to resign ourselves to paralysis within the Security Council when mass atrocities are committed and because of its conviction that the veto must not and cannot be a privilege, France wishes to regulate its use.
The Security Council’s veto power is granted solely to its five permanent members, which allows them to block any resolution or decision, whatever the majority opinion within the Council.
In the United Nations’ Security Council, decisions are made with a majority of 9 votes of the 15 Council members’ votes. All decision is rejected if one of the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia) makes use of its veto.
If the veto was used more than 265 times since 1945, France has not made use of its veto for more than 25 years.
During the United Nations’ 70th General Assembly, President François Hollande announced that France has committed never to use its veto in cases of mass atrocities: “France would like for Security Council permanent members to no longer be able to resort to the veto [power] in cases of mass atrocities. How to accept that the UN, to this day, may remain gridlocked whilst the worst is happening? In this case as well, let’s lead by example. I commit here for France never to make use of its veto [power] in cases of mass atrocity."
As suggested by the President in 2013, regulating the use of the veto would consist in the five Security Council permanent members (China, United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia) voluntarily and collectively committing themselves not to resort to the veto when a situation of mass atrocity is observed, such as in the cases of genocidal crimes, crimes against humanity and large scale war crimes.
Currently, the initiative jointly led by France and Mexico is supported by 106 countries. In this spirit, the code of conduct elaborated by the ACT group, which France backs, has also garnered very significant support.