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At UN, Chilean President tells permanent Security Council members to abandon veto

President Sebastian Piñera of Chile.
UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
President Sebastian Piñera of Chile.

At UN, Chilean President tells permanent Security Council members to abandon veto

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera today called for profound reform of the United Nations Security Council, increasing its membership, abandoning the veto enjoyed by the five current permanent members, and instituting a super-majority rule for the adoption of major decisions.

“We join in the appeals to countries with the right of veto to refrain from exercising that right in situations of crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide or ethnic cleansing, since doing so prevents the Council from effectively defending the most fundamental values and principles of mankind,” he told the General Assembly on the first day of its annual General Debate.

Chile supports the inclusion of Brazil, Germany, Japan and India as permanent members of the Security Council and the African continent's request for fair representation, he said. Currently the Council consists of 15 nations, five permanent members with the right of veto – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.

But Mr. Piñera stressed that Council reform is not limited to mere enlargement. “It also means abandoning the rationale of vetoes, reflecting an old world that no longer exists, and replacing it by a rationale of special quorums, suitable for this new 21st century world, so that the most important decisions concerning international security, which inevitably affect us all ultimately, can be adopted by large and forceful majorities truly representative of the community of nations,” he said.

“Basically, if we advocate democracy, dialogue and participation when we govern our countries, I see no reason not to apply these same principles and values when we take decisions affecting the whole world.”

Efforts to change the Council’s structure to make it more reflective of an age when the world body’s membership has almost quadrupled to 193 from just 51 at its founding in 1845 have been on the UN agenda for decades but so far without success.

Mr. Piñera also highlighted the importance of the “responsibility to protect” including the use of international force in sovereign countries as a last resort to prevent major human rights crimes.

“This concept considers as a primary duty to protect the population within its borders,” he said. “And if a State cannot or does not want to accomplish with this primary duty, then the international community can intervene within the frame of its three accepted pillars: prevention, support of the international community in this task and the proportional use of force, but always in accordance with the United Nation Charter, as a last resort and when strictly essential to prevent or deter genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.”

He also reaffirmed Chile’s commitment to democracy, multilateralism and regionalism, and condemned the use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate force in the Syrian civil war.