Russia has done so 13 times, including four times over Syria.
The Charter does allow the General Assembly to act if, because of a veto, international peace and security are threatened. The Security Council’s job is to maintain international peace.
Most recently, its starkest failure has been the handling of the conflict in Syria, with Russia backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the United States, Britain and France supporting some opposition groups.
The Council has not only failed to halt the fighting, but has also been unable to ensure the delivery of food aid and the safety of medical workers.
For the rest of the session, the General Assembly is the arena where largely symbolic diplomatic jousts are won and lost. While some of them earn a great deal of attention — like one in 1975 that equated Zionism with racism — they are not legally binding.
The United Nations Charter was signed at a conference in San Francisco in June 1945, led by four countries: Britain, China, the Soviet Union and the United States. The event offers plenty of star power, but critics contend that it is little more than a glorified gabfest.
If the officeholder is perceived as being independent, he or she is often the only person in the world who can call warring parties to the peace table. No matter who takes over as secretary general on Jan.
The 10-year tenure of the current secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has repeatedly revealed the limits of the office’s authority. Ban was persuaded for two years in a row to keep powerful countries off a list of those whose military forces had killed and maimed children. 1, he or she will inherit a body facing the unenviable task of demonstrating the United Nations’ relevance in a world confronting challenges that were inconceivable 70 years ago.
He or she is expected to show no favoritism to any particular country, but the office is largely dependent on the funding and the good will of the most powerful nations.
The Security Council — notably the P5 — chooses the secretary general, by secret ballot, to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.