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Last Updated: Monday March 10 2003 14:16 GMT

What is a veto?

Members of the UN voting on a resolution

The veto is a special power that allows a country to block any decision that the security council is voting on.

All they have to do is vote against it.

Who can do this?

These are the countries who can veto, in order of how often they have done it.

• Russia/USSR 123

• United States 82

• UK 32

• France 18

• China 6

Why can they do this?

These countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council. They got their power of veto because they were important in 1945. This is when the UN was set up.

Is it fair?

Lots of countries say it is not fair but there are two big reasons why it stays like this:

1. Money
The five permanent members pay for nearly half the cost of running the UN - even though there are 191 members.

2. Rules
If you had a vote on getting rid of the veto - the countries with a veto could veto it!