A more Effective Security Council

When the world needs the UN Security Council to respond to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, the five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - have a responsibility not to use their veto. Non-permanent members must not also vote against credible action aimed at preventing mass atrocity crimes. 

It has been an unfortunate reality that since the end of World War II the veto has been used to block action that could have helped prevent atrocities and hold perpetrators accountable. 

Click here to see the full list of vetoes used at the UN Security Council since 1945. 

In one of the most tragic examples from our times, on eight occasions since October 2011 the veto has been exercised by Russia (eight vetoes) and China (six vetoes and one abstention) to protect the government of the Syrian Arab Republic from resolutions meant to address crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Syrian people. 

Background: Destruction in the City of Homs, Syria (Yazan Homsy/Reuters)