The five permanent members of the Security Council — notably the U.S. and Russia — use their veto power to keep wars going.

by Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

On Wednesday, the United States was the only country to vote “no” on a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution authored by Brazil that called for “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Twelve countries voted for the resolution, including several surprising ones, such as France and the United Arab Emirates. Two more, Russia and the U.K., abstained. But according to the Security Council’s rules, America’s sole “no” vote meant that the resolution failed.

Human Rights Watch criticized America’s actions, saying, “Once again the U.S. cynically used their veto to prevent the U.N. Security Council from acting on Israel and Palestine at a time of unprecedented carnage.”

flags are prepared at the UN

The Security Council has 15 countries. Ten are rotating members, elected by the U.N. General Assembly and serving on the council for a period of two years. Five are permanent members: the U.S., Russia, China, France, and the U.K. If any of the permanent members vetoes a resolution, it will not pass, no matter how many votes are in favor. This means that any of the permanent members can veto any action by the Security Council.

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