Remarks at a UN General Assembly Debate on Use of the Veto

Mark Simonoff
Legal Advisor
New York, New York
April 26, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President.  The Security Council needs to better reflect the UN today – particularly by including geographically diverse perspectives – so that it can better respond to 21st century challenges, which is imperative for the Council’s continued relevance and credibility.

The United States continues to believe that the standing mandate to convene a General Assembly debate whenever a veto is cast is a significant step toward the accountability, transparency, and responsibility of all of the permanent members of the Security Council who wield its power.

The United States has been pleased to see the full implementation of General Assembly Resolution 76/262, a resolution co-sponsored by more than 80 delegations, including ours.

The United States played a constructive role in the preparation of the first special report of the Security Council last year, which was drafted during the U.S. Presidency of the Security Council in May 2022.

Though we were very disappointed about the vetoes that were cast last year, we welcome the fact that the Security Council has prepared a special report each time a veto was cast, and that the General Assembly convened to discuss these vetoes.

We have expressed outrage over Russia’s veto of two Security Council resolutions last year in response to Russia’s unlawful actions in Ukraine.

Through meetings of the 11th Emergency Special Session beginning last year, the General Assembly has overwhelmingly condemned, in the strongest terms possible, Russia’s further aggression and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty via separate resolutions, in March, October and again most recently in February of this year.

Through these resolutions, the Assembly has reaffirmed the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine and has called for the Russian Federation to immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

The Permanent Five Members of the Security Council must exercise their veto authority responsibly.  Any Permanent Member that exercises the veto to defend its own acts of aggression against another UN member state should be held accountable.

The United States takes seriously its privilege of veto power; it is a sober and solemn responsibility that must be respected by those Permanent Members to whom it has been entrusted.  The United States reiterates that we will refrain from the use of the veto except in rare, extraordinary situations.

Thank you.