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Zelenskyy outlines three steps for UN reform, including veto abolishment

Zelenskyy outlines three steps for UN reform, including veto abolishment President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Getty Images)

The United Nations Security Council needs urgent reform, including granting the UN General Assembly the ability to overcome veto power, as President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in his address to the UN Security Council.

"574 days of full-scale Russian aggression are 574 reasons for changes in this hall. And there are billions of votes for such changes actually," he said.

Zelenskyy notes that the absolute majority of people in the world long for a world without aggression. The exception is only those obsessed with Russia. He emphasizes that the veto power should not serve as a weapon for those driven by hatred and war.

Ukraine sees growing support in the UN for the idea that in cases of mass atrocities against life, there should be a voluntary waiver of the veto power. However, Russia will never willingly give up this privilege.

Therefore, according to Zelenskyy, the UN General Assembly should be given a real opportunity to overcome the veto. This is the first necessary step for reform.

"If war cannot be stopped because all efforts are blocked by the veto of the aggressor or its backers, this issue should be brought to the General Assembly. With the condition of obtaining two-thirds of the votes, reflecting the will of nations from Asia, Africa, Europe, both Americas, and the Pacific region - a global qualified majority - the veto needs to be overcome, and such a resolution of the General Assembly should be mandatory for all member states," he said.

The second step, according to the President, is that the UN Security Council should be fully accountable to the nations of the world. Thus, the circle of permanent members of the Security Council should reflect the nowadays.

Zelenskyy notes that the Security Council should always include the African Union, Latin America, and Pacific states. Asia deserves broader permanent representation because Japan, India, and the Islamic world should not be left out.

He adds that changes in Europe should also be taken into account. For instance, Germany has become one of the key global guarantors of peace and security. Therefore, Berlin deserves a place among the permanent members of the Security Council.

Additionally, there should be an expansion of participation and access to the work of the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies for all members of the General Assembly who are not considered aggressors.

Any participation of a Security Council member state should be suspended when that country engages in aggression against another nation, violating the UN Charter.

The third step of reform is a system of aggression prevention through early response to actions aimed against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states.

"Nations of the world should agree on such a mechanism for responding to aggression to protect others, everyone would want for their own security. The Russian invasion of Ukraine showed that such a mechanism can involve, among other things, powerful sanctions against the aggressor. And not only at the stage when Bucha already happened but also at the stage when an invasion army is being gathered," he said.

Zelenskyy emphasizes that anyone who wants to start a war should see before the fatal mistake what they will lose. At the same time, the issue of applying preventive sanctions should be automatically brought to the UN Security Council's consideration when any member of the General Assembly declares a threat of aggression.

UN reform

The UN consists of five permanent members with veto power, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly stated that Russia's presence in the UN is illegal because it usurped the seat of the Soviet Union bypassing necessary procedures based on a letter from then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Ukraine has called on the UN to reboot many times. In particular, they have advocated for depriving Russia of its veto power, refreshing the composition of the Security Council, and restoring trust in the UN.

The President mentions that the veto power has pushed the UN into a dead end.

Zelenskyy also called for Russia's exclusion from the UN Security Council.

To find out more about the UN Security Council, read the article on RBC-Ukraine.