During the past several years, vetoes have been cast in the UN Security Council to block draft resolutions aimed at addressing the crises in Syria and Ukraine. Concerning Syria, Russia and China have vetoed three resolutions (the votes were 9-2-4 on October 4, 2011, 13-2-0 on February 4, 2012, and 11-2-2 on July 19, 2012). Concerning Ukraine, Russia vetoed a resolution just recently (the vote was 13-1-1 on March 15, 2014). The same question that arose in 1950 has thus arisen again today: can the General Assembly do anything when the Council is blocked because of a permanent member casting a veto? The answer is “yes.” But the reason is not because of the Assembly’s resolution 377A(V) of November 3, 1950 (“Uniting for Peace”), even though advocates of Assembly action frequently invoke it. Indeed, this resolution is for the most part no longer needed to provide a basis for Assembly “collective measures” recommendations when a veto proscribes the Council’s adoption of such measures. Moreover, the resolution does not provide a basis or justification for the use of force that would not be justified on other grounds, such as self-defense.
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