Amnesty Urges UN Powers to Waive Veto on Genocide

Amnesty Urges UN Powers to Waive Veto on GenocideAmnesty Urges UN Powers to Waive Veto on Genocide

Amnesty International on Wednesday urged the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to waive their veto rights in cases of atrocities, describing 2014 as a “catastrophic year for millions caught up in violence.”

In its 415-page annual report detailing abuses in 160 countries, the human rights watchdog said the global response to widespread conflict from Nigeria to Syria had been “shameful and ineffective.”

It said millions of civilians had been killed in violent conflicts, while the number of displaced people around the world exceeded 50 million last year for the first time since the end of World War II, France24 said in a report.

“As people suffered an escalation in barbarous attacks and repression, the international community has been found wanting,” said the group’s secretary general, Shalil Shetty.

Amnesty singled out the UN Security Council for criticism, with Shetty saying it had “miserably failed” to protect civilians.

The five permanent Security Council members – the US, Britain, China, France and Russia– “consistently abused” their veto rights to “promote their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians,” he said.

Amnesty is now urging the five states to give up their right to veto action in cases where genocide and other mass killings are being committed.

“We propose that the five permanent members abandon their veto power when it comes to finding a solution to very serious crises such as genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the head of Amnesty’s French branch Genevieve Garrigos said.

  Embrace Refugees

The human rights group sharply criticized the European Union’s response to the four million Syrian refugees displaced by conflict in the world’s worst ongoing refugee crisis. By the end of 2014 only 150,000 Syrian refugees were living in EU states, it said, while 3,400 refugees and migrants had died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to make their way to Europe.

“The response of the EU and its member states was, with few exceptions, driven above all by the desire to keep them out,” the report said. Shetty added that the European response to the problem was “actually pushing people into the water of the Mediterranean.”

Amnesty also urged all states to abide by a treaty regulating the international arms trade which came into force last year, saying this could help stop huge shipments of weapons to conflict-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.

“At least half a million people die every year on average and millions more are injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes as a result of the poorly regulated global trade in weapons and munitions,” Susanna Flood, Amnesty’s media director said.

  Threats from Extremists

Amnesty said the growing influence of non-state actors – notably armed groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State, which control significant stretches of territory – was a major concern.

The group said such extremist groups were found to have committed abuses in 35 countries last year.

“IS fighters committed widespread war crimes, including ethnic cleansing of religious and ethnic minorities through a campaign of mass killings of men and abduction and sexual and other abuse of women and girls,” the report said.

Amnesty said there would be more victims of abuse and persecution as the influence of such groups spilled across national borders.