What is a veto? And what entitles a country to one? [edited title]

I did a search, and could find an answer.

UK,USA, Russia, China and France all have vitos.

Forgive my ignorance - what is a vito, and why do some countries have them, and others don’t?

try searching veto instead… :slight_smile:

That’s VETO.

I can’t imagine that China has any Vitos anyway.

Word expressing embarrasment at error.

Appology to mods for searching for the wrong thing.

Request for change of title.

Are you sure you don’t mean “veto”? All the countries you mentioned have veto powers in the UN.

IIRC, the victors of WWII US?UK/Russia/France who were the major powers at the time were given the veto in order to reflect their special position as the most powerful nations of the time. when China was admitted(?) later, she was also given a veto.

IMHO it would make more sense to redistribute the vetos along more realistic and representative lines, but it ain’t going to happen- it means too much to the UK and France.

Of course, the US has the only really effective veto as we shall probably see in the next few weeks.

Veto means that any one of those 5 countries you listed can veto a resolution in the Security Council of the UN. The security council is responsible for military action in the UN.


Sort of, but I like the explanation: “The big players don’t want to join if they have to abide by descisions they don’t like.” Ideally there would be no veto power.

As an additional info - these are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The ten non-permanent countries don´t have a veto.
The fifth used to be Taiwan, but China took its place when it was accepted as the representative of the Chinese people.
And yes, the veto can be quite a hazzle. (Not only back in the Cold War days…) And any of the other countries could veto a mission in Iraq, so I doubt the reading that the US has “the only really effective veto” - anyway, a veto can just prevent a decision being made, not make one happen when the others don´t.

The power of veto is one of the major things that has buggered up the UN since its inception.
Of course, without the veto the UN would likely not exist at all, so I guess it’s better than nothing.

“Veto” is Latin for “I forbid”. If anyone’s interested in the derivation.

If you want something fixed, you should e-mail the moderators. Using the report-this-post function is an easy way to do that. Lucky for you, I happened to see this anyway. I have edited the title to fix the spelling error.

moderator GQ

There are 15 seats on the UN Security Council. Five are permanently assigned and ten are temporarily assigned (and open to all members).
All seats get one vote (in favor, opposed, abstain).
The veto is a benefit that only the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, US) have. The veto allows any of these members to strike down a resolution even if it passed with a majority of votes.

How times have chaged department:

The Security Council veto was much despised in the 1950s because of the way the USSR used it. Only the fact that they happened to be boycotting the Security Council when the resolution to respond to North Korea came up allowed the US to be part of a UN force in the Korean War.

The US made much of its moral superiority in never vetoing anything in the 1950s. So much so that an entire subplot in Allan Drury’s big 1962 political novel A Shade of Difference is about the horror and hubbub that ensues when the US threatens to veto something.

Of course, by the time the US first really did exercise its veto, nobody in the entire country except professional UN watchers even noticed, but the issue really was a major one once upon a time.

Exapno Mapcase, when did the US first use its veto power, and on what issue?

In follow-up on the observations of Exapno Mapcase:

The nation which, far and away, has exercised its veto power the most often is The United States. This has largely to do with squelching resolutions which are critical of Israel.

And yes, we used to expend a lot of pious outrage over the Soviets exercising their veto power.

It is a matter of whose ox is being gored: this past week the Bush administration was warning that the U.N. could become “irrelevant” if it does not enforce resolutions concerning Iraq. It was also last week that The World Court issued a stay on the execution of three Mexican citizens in U.S. prisons. If the U.S. acts as expected and ignores the Court’s ruling (and the U.S. has done that many times in the past) I don’t think the Bush administration is going to call on the U.N. to enforce its ruling or risk becoming irrelevant.

From this page:

A slight 'nother correction: China had the fifth permanent seat, from the beginning of the U.N. However, the Republic of China, considered the legitimate government of all of China but the weakest of the five major Allies in WWII (and, insulting as it may be from today’s perspective, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, most of whom contributed more to the war effort than China, were counted as part of the British Empire and represented by the UK), lost a civil war to the Chinese Communists, who had had a rebel government since well before the war, and retreated to Taiwan. They however retained the seat on the UN, including the permanent Security Council seat, backed by the US and usually by the UK and France, until Nixon moved to normalize US relations with the People’s Republic of China and reduced US support of the Taipei regime.