This week Amnesty International released its report on the year 2014. As anyone who’s followed the news (or this blog at least) knows, it wasn’t a great year, with terrible human rights abuses in West Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine. They also accuse world powers of failing to act to help refugees and victims of conflict. But as well as accusations, they make an interesting suggestion – that the UN Security Council members agree not to use their veto except in the case of national interest. Amnesty believes this would allow the UN to step up to tackle global crises. But how realistic is this proposal? And come to think of it, why do the Security Council powers have vetoes, and why those specific five countries? To answer this, let’s look back to 1945. Continue reading
Yesterday the US broke nearly 70 years of protocol and announced that the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations would not receive a visa for the US – in effect stopping him from taking up his post in New York. This is the first time the US has ever done this, and Iran has reacted angrily. The reason? Hamid Abutalebi was involved in the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran back in 1979. So what was that seizure? Why are these two countries locked in such dislike? And can the US actually do this?