KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today reiterated his stand on limiting the veto power held by permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
“After the last war (World War II), where millions of people were killed, the big powers decided that the world should have an organisation which includes all the countries of the world.
“So, the United Nations was set up. Unfortunately, the big powers decided that they should have veto power, and that as you know, has paralysed the United Nations.
“One solution is to either get rid of the veto power or to make it less frequently used. For example, if there is to be a veto, it should come from at least two countries (with veto power) supported by three non-permanent members of the Security Council.
"In that way, I think, the use of veto power would not frustrate the possibilities of UN becoming effective in solving international conflicts. So the rule of law; we are told that 'you must abide by the rule of law'.
“But the very people who asked us to abide by the rule of law do not abide by the rule of law in international affairs. This is something that is very odd.
“Unless we’re prepared to recognise the weakness and flaws of the past, we will not be able to make the rule of law internationally effective. That is the Malaysian view,” he said during the question-and-answer session after delivering his keynote speech at the 33rd Asia-Pacific roundtable titled ‘New Malaysia in a changing Regional Order’ here today.
He had, during the UN general assembly last year, called for an end to the dominance in the world body of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, with each wielding veto powers.
Critics have described the veto as being the most undemocratic element of the UN; and the main cause of inaction on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In his speech, Dr Mahathir had among others said there was nothing civilised nor advanced “when war is an option to solve problems”.
“At a time when we pride ourselves as being civilised, we find leading nations still bent on killing people in the pursuit of their national interest and agenda.
“We should all work towards criminalising wars. We must campaign against wars and it must be an international creed that must be subscribed to, very much like our commitments to protect the environment, freedom and fundamental liberties.”
In fact, he said, criminalising wars should be one of the top priorities of the international communities knowing that when wars were fought human lives become insignificant.
“How can that be acceptable when we know in a war civilians, children, women, the weak, the sick and the elderly face the same possibilities of being killed as the soldiers?
“At the same time, as the international communities campaign for the abolishment of capital punishment even of murderers, we choose to be silent when the thousands and thousands of civilians and soldiers are killed in military campaigns.
“And the warmongers love to glorify their killers with medals and statues and repeated mentions in their history books,” he said.
He said while Malaysia welcomed international collaborations in ensuring the security and peace in and around the region, it did not wish to be dragged into the one-upmanship of powerful nations and their military presence in its zone of peace, freedom and neutrality.
“More than ever, the cohesiveness of the nations of the region is crucial more than at any other period in its contemporary history. We will not allow ourselves to be dragged into conflicts initiated by others.”