Watching the recent US veto in UNSC against the cease fire in Gaza resolution I noticed that there was no explicit use of veto, it was just the US voting 'Against'.

I thought that a permanent member has to explicitly use veto against a majority vote. So in the case above, there were 13 'For', one 'Abstain' and one 'Against'. I thought in this case the decision will pass unless after the vote finishes, a permanent member declares that they are using their veto power to not let the resolution through.

I thought this can be useful when a permanent member doesn't agree with a resolution but will let it through, it just wants to register its opposition to it without blocking it, otherwise they will have to just abstain like what the UK did.

Is this correct or did I miss something?

1 Answer 1


There is no need for a permanent member to declare the use of their veto power explicitly - if a P5 member votes against a non-procedural resolution then it will always fail to pass.

Article 27(3) of the UN Charter states:

Decisions of the Security Council on all other [non-procedural] matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.

There is consequently no way for a permanent member to record a vote against a resolution but not veto it. The only way for a P5 member to register opposition (or lack of support) but not veto is to abstain from voting. Despite 'concurring votes' in the Charter perhaps implying that a lack of 'For' votes from the P5 would cause a resolution to fall, an 'Abstain' vote (or absence) is not counted as fatal.

  • 2
    Note than a P5 abstention does not count as an affirmative vote but also fails to count as a veto despite the concurring votes requirement. This abuse of language (in particular of including) started during the Soviet empty chair during the Korean war.
    – Henry
    Dec 14, 2023 at 15:17

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