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France pushes meeting on UN veto rights

AFP , Monday 31 Mar 2014
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (Photo: Reuters)
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France will organize a meeting to push for reforms to restrain the use of Security Council vetoes in cases involving mass crimes, the French ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Gerard Araud said the ministerial-level meeting would be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September among all foreign ministers who wish to take part.

France's aim is "to create a public debate to pressure other permanent members" of the Security Council to accept a code of conduct on the use of their vetoes, Araud said.

The council's five permanent members -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China -- all have the power to block Security Council decisions with their vetoes.

The French proposal, advanced last September by President Francois Hollande, comes amid frustration in the West over Moscow's repeated vetoes of UN Security Council action on Syria, a close ally of Russia.

However, the council did manage to reach agreement in September on destroying Syria's chemical weapons arsenal and on humanitarian access to the war-torn country last month.

The code of conduct that Paris is proposing would not be binding in cases where a country's "vital national interests" are at stake.

Araud said the meeting was being organized by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

"We have a text which we are going to discuss with the permanent members because it is up to them to make their decisions," he said.

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