United Nations Veto Power

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A criticism of the United Nations Security Council is the veto power of the five permanent nations – China, France, United Kingdom, United States, and Russia. A veto from any one of these nations can halt any possible action the Council could take. This veto may cripple any UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis somewhere in the world.

Above is bar chart displaying the number of vetoes by the five permeant members of the UN Security Council. Typically in the western media it is presented that, time and time again, if it where not for vetoes from China or Russia the West could have intervened and prevented some conflict. Yet, a look at history presents a counter narrative.

Early in the history of the UN, the USSR used it’s veto power frequently. From 1945 to 1966 the USSR had a total of 105 vetoes compared to 6 for the four other members combined! However, over the next decades the situation reversed itself.

From 1986 to 2007, the United States took a dominate position using it’s veto power 36 times compared to 18 for the remaining four members. Combining the UK and France with the US (the UK and France voted in combination with the US on all of their vetoes) the total is: Western nations – 47, Others – 7. Further, John J. Mearsheimer is quoted that “since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.”

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To be fair, since 2007 there has been a large uptick in vetoes cast by Russia and China – virtually all them concerning the situation in Syria and the Ukraine. The total vetoes from 2007 to present are: Russia – 9, China – 5, France, UK, US combined – 1. Further, China voted with Russia on all 5 of it’s vetoes.


Oil Imports

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In the mist of an energy production boom in the US, the amount of oil imported from foreign countries in 2014 fell to 27% (the lowest level since 1985). Over the past decade or so, the US as also been importing less oil from the Middle East region and increasing its imports from the Western Hemisphere (40% from Canada, 10% from Mexico, 10% from Venezuela). In fact, Canada accounts for 3.5 times the oil imports of Saudi Arabia to the US (3,401 thousand barrels per day compared to 983 thousand barrels per day).

Across the Pacific, China is increasing its reliance on Middle East oil — and presumably, as a result, increasing its presence in the region. In fact, in a recent New York Times article it was announced that China will be establishing its first overseas military output in Djibouti. The East African nation sits at the entrance point of the Red Sea — the waterway boarding Saudi Arabia to the east. As shown in the figure below, China now receives the majority (51.2%) of its oil imports from the Middle East and by 2035 imports from the region are expected to double. China oil imports.png

Energy Independence

Over the next several decades, many countries oil and gas dependence will grow as their nation’s economy expands. South Korea and Japan (in the upper right counter) are both already highly dependent on energy imports and will continue to remain so in the near future. Meanwhile in Europe, the persistent lack of economic growth is expected to lessen the upward trend in energy imports in the near term.

Developing Asia (China, India, and ASEAN) will see massive growth in oil and gas imports over the next 25 years as displayed by the drastic ‘up and to the left’ movement on the graphic below. One glaring outlier in the world energy picture is the United States —  who is currently undergoing a complete energy transformation due in large part to the break through technology of ‘fracking’. The United States will move from being the world’s largest energy importer to a net energy exporter!


Source: The Economist