Letter: Use of the veto in the UN Security Council

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Sir: It is extraordinary that my friend Conor Cruise O'Brien ('Saving faces, and maybe the world', 30 April) should have made such an obvious mistake in comparing the Hungarian uprising to the Korean war and the veto that can be used by one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

He correctly states that in 1956 the US took the invasion of Hungary to the Security Council, where the Soviet Union applied the veto that stopped it from taking any action. He goes on to state that this was merely an excuse, and compares it to the Korean war. In this case, however, the UN intervened perfectly legitimately because for a year the Soviet Union decided to boycott meetings of the Security Council and, therefore, no veto took place.

Yours faithfully,


London, W4