Government responds to questions asking what steps they have taken in response to the proposals to block veto powers of the permanent members of the UN Security Council in cases of (1) genocide, and (2) other international crimes but is sceptical about seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of the veto power

Sep 21, 2020 | Uncategorized

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL8044):

Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken in response to the proposals to block veto powers of the permanent members of the UN Security Council in cases of (1) genocide, and (2) other international crimes. (HL8044)

Tabled on: 14 September 2020

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to lead the initiative at the UN General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of the veto power, where the exercise of the veto by one of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council would have the effect of (1) facilitating continuing violations of peremptory norms in international law, (2) undermining the duty of other UN Security Council members in responding to serious crimes, or (3) is inconsistent with protections that are fundamental to international law. (HL8043)
    Tabled on: 14 September 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

The UK supports international criminal justice, and accountability is a fundamental element of our foreign policy. As a signatory of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s Code of Conduct declaration, the UK has committed to not vote against a credible draft resolution on timely and decisive action to end, or prevent, the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. When there is a lack of political agreement in the UN Security Council, we will continue to consider alternative action elsewhere in the UN including the General Assembly and Human Rights Council.

We are open to the idea of reforming the working practices of the UN Security Council as long as it does not reduce its capacity to address threats to international peace and security. We are sceptical that the way to achieve this reform is through asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion, which would in any event, be non-binding. We consider the best approach is to continue to pursue dialogue with the rest of the five permanent members to ensure that the veto is not used to stop credible efforts to end mass atrocities. We will also continue to work with other members of the Security Council to ensure that credible draft resolutions are supported by at least nine members, even where a veto is unlikely, to ensure that they are adopted.

Date and time of answer: 21 Sep 2020 at 16:08.

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