The United Nations adopted a new rule on Tuesday that requires an automatic review of a veto by any of the five permanent members of the Security Council. While the move is a significant backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it may not be enough to stop future actions that buck the wider international community. 

In a resolution put forward by the UN representative from Lichtenstein and co-sponsored by 83 member nations, including the United States, the Security Council adopted a rare check on the use of permanent member’s veto power. 

According to the resolution, a veto holder can be made to explain their veto decision within ten days of it being cast and a debate must be held on the situation in question.

"Together we have made sure today that a veto is no longer the last word on issues of peace and security," said the Lichtenstein representative to the UN in a tweet after the rule's adoption.

Only the U.S, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China wield this power in the UN. 

Liechtenstein's UN ambassador Christian Wenaweser insisted that the new rule was not directed specifically at Russia or any specific country, but described the rule as a way to enhance the role of non-veto-wielding members of the UN. Even if that was the resolution's intent, it is hard to ignore the role Russia played in inspiring its inception by attacking Ukraine on Feb. 24 and its subsequent veto of a Security Council resolution that condemned the war.

Russia inherited its veto power from the Soviet Union, which was initially granted at the UN’s inception in 1945. Since its formation, Moscow has been the most prolific wielder of its veto power, casting more vetoes than any other member of the council. 

Even before the war in Ukraine, Russia has been responsible for a number of controversial vetoes to provide cover for its foreign policy. 

In 2009, Moscow killed a resolution that allowed UN monitors to deploy to Georgia after invading the country less than a year earlier. Six years later did so again when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Alongside China, Russia has vetoed 11 resolutions on Syria’s civil war since 2011, including multiple proposals to open humanitarian corridors to citizens caught in the crossfire. 

The decision to institute a review of Russia’s veto power follows outrage from Ukraine and the U.S. over the ongoing war. 

On April 5, Ukraine’s embattled President Volodomyr Zelensky accused Russia of using its veto to "into the right to [cause] death" while the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield decried a “shameful pattern” of Moscow abusing its veto power.

But this new resolution is unlikely to do much in the way of curbing Russia’s use of vetoes in the Security Council.

For one, it is a non-binding resolution that carries no power to force a state to explain why it vetoed a particular resolution. It also does nothing more to limit the veto power wielded by the Security Council’s five permanent members.

Despite its passage, the reform did not secure the backing of every veto power holder. France and the UK backed the measure with the U.S. though they themselves did not initially co-sponsor the rule change. 

China also did not vote in favor of the resolution. Since the start of the war, China has backed Russia diplomatically against the West, but it has refrained from openly endorsing the war against Ukraine itself.