Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the General Assembly Plenary, 53rd Session, Item 59: Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters, United Nations, New York, 19 November 1998: 

Mr. President,

Item 59 of our agenda, "Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters", represents an important matter relevant to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. The reform and expansion of the Security Council should indeed be a priority for Member States, as it constitutes a very important goal in the effort to further improve and democratize the organization. However, I wish to take this opportunity today to focus in specific on the working methods and work of the Security Council, particularly the issue of veto.

In this regard, I would like to first recall what was said by President Arafat during the General Debate, on 28 September 1998. In his statement, he emphasized that the complete democratization of this global organization requires "a solution for the veto issue in the Security Council, particularly the frequent and excessive use of it. Transparency and clear rules of procedure must prevail in the Council. At this juncture, I would like to remind you that, since 1973, the Palestinian question has been subjected to 21 vetoes in the Security Council by one of the permanent members of the Council, the last two of which occurred in a period of less than two weeks."

The vetoes being referred to are those cast by the United States on draft resolutions regarding the Palestine question and the situation in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. In addition to those 21 vetoes, if we also include vetoes on draft resolutions related to other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict in general, the total number will amount to 35 vetoes since 1973 – that is 35 vetoes in 25 years. During that same period, no other permanent member cast any veto on Palestinian or Middle East issues. The U.S. vetoes in this regard are tantamount to the actual prevention of the application of international law and the application of relevant provisions of The Charter of the United Nations, including Chapter 7. In short, this has translated into automatic protection for Israel in the face of the collective will of the international community and in spite of its continuous violations of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

This unique situation raises a serious question. What is the remedy to this indiscriminate use of veto power? The membership has partly reacted with the convening of three separate emergency special sessions. Nevertheless, the phenomenon continued. The situation also raises another question: At what stage, or after how many vetoes cast in relation to the same conflict, does a permanent member become a party to the conflict within the meaning of paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the Charter? That article states the following: "Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting." We believe that the membership should address these and other important questions.

The basic concern in this regard remains whether the United Nations, and the Security Council in specific, can continue to appropriately execute its work and responsibilities, as specified in the Charter, in light of this kind of unrestricted use of veto power by one or another permanent member.