Meaning of U.N. called into question amid Security Council’s failures

The U.N. Security Council failed to adopt a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. The body has not remotely fulfilled its role of preventing war and resolving conflict.

The current situation, in which Russia and China are abusing the privilege of being permanent members of the Security Council and destroying the functions of the Security Council, is intolerable. If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which tramples on the U.N. Charter, goes unaddressed, the United Nations’ existence will essentially be meaningless. Every country should raise its voice to condemn Russia on the stage of the United Nations.

It has been decided that the U.N. General Assembly will meet for an emergency special session to discuss the situation regarding Ukraine. Emergency special sessions are convened if the Security Council fails to take action based on its “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” as specified in the U.N. Charter.

The United States and other countries proposed holding an emergency special session after the Security Council’s draft resolution condemning Russia was rejected due to Russia’s veto. The proposal was passed by a majority vote, as vetoes cannot be exercised regarding whether to hold a session.

It will be the first time in 25 years, or since 1997 when the topic of discussion was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that an emergency special session will be convened. This can be said to illustrate the gravity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the dysfunction of the Security Council.

At a meeting of the General Assembly, each of the 193 U.N. member states has one equal vote, and a normal proposal is passed by a majority vote. Countries will express their position on this situation through votes and speeches.

Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but the more countries that vote in favor of a resolution, the more Russia’s lawlessness and isolation will be exposed to the entire world. Each country’s insight and credibility will also become clear.

China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained from the Security Council vote on Feb. 25. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China’s responsibility is particularly serious.

China regularly emphasizes the sovereignty of small and midsize countries and the importance of the United Nations. If that is the case, it would be reasonable for China to support Ukraine, whose sovereignty has been violated, and for Beijing to condemn Russia.

China has expressed understanding for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sophistry in justifying the invasion of Ukraine. There is no denying that China is seen as having taken concerted action with Russia.

The Security Council is designed to maintain peace through cooperation among major powers by giving veto power to the Security Council’s permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — who were the victors in World War II. In reality, however, Russia and China are exploiting this framework of privilege.

In response to the financial sanctions that have been imposed on Russia by Western nations, Putin has ordered the Russian military to put its nuclear forces on high alert. It is impossible not to feel strong anger over the fact that the leader of a nuclear power, who is responsible for global peace, is threatening the use of nuclear weapons.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on March 1, 2022.