United Nations Security Council veto power

United Nations Security Council Veto Power

United Nations Security Council veto power

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The United Nations Security Council "power of veto" refers to the veto power wielded solely by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States), enabling them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. The veto does not apply to procedural votes, which is significant in that the Security Council's permanent membership can vote against a "procedural" draft resolution, without necessarily blocking its adoption by the Council.

The veto is exercised when any permanent member — the so-called "P5" — casts a "negative" vote on a "substantive" draft resolution. Abstention, or absence from the vote by a permanent member does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted.

Origins of the veto provision

The idea of states having a veto over the actions of international organizations was not new in 1945. From the foundation of the League of Nations in 1920, each member of the League Council, whether permanent or non-permanent, had a veto on any non-procedural issue. From 1920 there were 4 permanent and 4 non-permanent members, but by 1936 the number of non-permanent members had increased to 11. Thus there were in effect 15 vetoes. This was one of several defects of the...
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