Statement on behalf of the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania)
delivered by H.E. Mr. Rytis Paulauskas
77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Agenda item 60 – Use of Veto
New York, 26 April 2023
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the three Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia, and my own country Lithuania.
The UN General Assembly resolution entitled “Standing mandate for a General Assembly debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council”, adopted a year ago, was a remarkable step towards accountability, legitimacy and transparency in the use of the veto power. Since the adoption, it has already served its purpose and ensured a significant opportunity for collaboration between the main organs of the Organization. During the past year there were 3 times when the General Assembly was obliged to step up after the Security Council decisions were impeded by some Members who exercise their veto power. These included instances on DPRK draft resolution, Syrian draft resolution and draft resolution on Russia’s unlawful actions regarding the illegal so-called referenda in regions within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders (the latter was followed by the UNGA Emergency Special session).
The General Assembly sessions after the Security Council veto, featuring numerous speakers representing a range of countries, have demonstrated that the veto initiative is fulfilling the primary goal of promoting greater accountability for the Council’s work. It provided the General Assembly with the opportunity not only to receive a vote explanation, but also to openly discuss the matter and utilize its authority to the fullest extent.
The Security Council was given the primary mandate to maintain international peace and security by the United Nations Charter. However, the unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine waged by Russia – the permanent member of the Security Council – clearly exposed the structural and procedural weaknesses of this body. The increased abuse of the veto power further illustrates how Russia continues to hold the Security Council hostage. Subsequently, a reform of the Security Council is inevitable, including through enlarged representation.
Security Council members, especially permanent members, have a special responsibility. Any Permanent Member that exercises the veto to defend its own acts of aggression against another member state, most seriously undermines the credibility of the UN Charter, of the UN, and of the whole multilateral rules bases international system, and should be therefore held fully accountable. Abusive use of a veto by a Permanent Member of the Council is also the reason why we cannot assure full accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine in the Security Council.
The Baltic countries highlight that the veto power is constrained under Article 27(3) of the UN Charter, which obliges a party to a dispute to abstain from voting. We also believe that the Security Council members should refrain from using the veto in case of mass atrocities, including the crime of aggression.
We reaffirm our commitment to the principles outlined in the UN Charter and express our support for enhancing the role of the General Assembly. We stand ready to continue collaborating towards ensuring greater accountability, legitimacy and transparency in the use of the veto power.