fifty years ago March 19, 1970 Archives

First veto by U.S. in UNSC

For the first time in its 25 year history, the United Nations last night [March 17] witnessed the unprecedented event of the United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, exercising its privilege of veto to prevent the passage of an Afro-Asian resolution aimed at the white minority Government of Rhodesia. The resolution would have condemned Britain for not using force to overthrow the breakaway rebel Government of Mr. Ian Smith which declared itself a Republic recently. It would also have required all member governments to isolate Rhodesia completely, and sever all remaining links with it, including postal, radio and telecommunications connections.

The motion, sponsored by the Afro-Asian members (and supported by Russia and China), had overwhelming support — it received nine affirmative votes (the number needed for passage in the 15-member Council) with two against and four abstentions (including that of France). The U.S. could have maintained its veto-free record by also abstaining, because the negative vote cast by Britain (its fourth) alone was enough to defeat the motion. But the Nixon administration apparently felt that it had to show more positive support for Britain with which it has always had a “special relationship.”

Explaining its vote the U.S. representative said his country had voted against a resolution which had so much support, only after the most serious consideration. All the other four permanent members of the Council have exercised their veto more than once in the past, the Soviet Union holding the record with 105 negative votes. Afro-Asian sentiment against the U.S. for its action was apparently running high, because when the U.S. sought a half-hour recess in the meeting last night to explore the possibility of a compromise resolution, the request was voted down by the majority which felt that it was merely a stalling move.

Earlier, a British bid to have a mild resolution, which would have merely asked the members to enforce past economic sanctions and refrain from recognising the new Republican Government in Rhodesia (which most of them already do not) was also defeated.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 9:46:48 AM |

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