Preventing Mass Atrocity Crimes: Is There a Responsibility Not to Veto?

Event Date: 06/20/2018

Do the permanent five members of the UN Security Council have a responsibility to forego their veto power in situations where decisive Council action could prevent mass atrocity crimes? Does inaction in such cases undermine the Council as the world’s preeminent guarantor of international peace and security? The discussion sponsored by OEF Research, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York, and the Academic Council on the United Nations System was kicked off by a recent article published in the journal Global Governance, titled “The Responsibility Not to Veto: A Genealogy.” The author, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, was involved in the 2013 formulation of the French proposal to voluntarily restrain the use of the veto in situations of mass atrocity crimes. This perspective will be compared with other veto restraint efforts, such as the Code of Conduct of the Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency Group and legal arguments to limiting the veto. The discussants, as well as the ensuing discussion among all participants, shed light on normative, legal, and political ramifications that this question poses.

Welcome Remarks

  • Marc-André Blanchard, Canada’s permanent representative to the United Nations


  • Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, director of the Institute for Strategic Research (French Ministry of Defence)
  • Jennifer Trahan, associate clinical professor, NYU Center for Global Affairs
  • Ruth Wedgwood, professor of international law, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies


Melissa LaBonte, associate dean, Fordham University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences