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UN Documentation: Security Council

Voting in the Security Council

Article 27 of the UN Charter, and rule 40 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure, concern voting in the Security Council.

Analysis of Security Council voting can be found in the Repertory of Practice of UN Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.

Most Security Council resolutions are adopted by vote.

Official voting information is found in:

  • the meeting record for the meeting at which the vote was taken
  • the annual cumulations of the resolutions

In general, to be adopted, a draft resolution on a non-procedural matter must have the affirmative vote of nine members of the Council, including the concurring votes of the five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. 

A draft does not pass:

  • if the draft fails to win nine votes, or 

  • if a permanent member casts a negative vote (veto)

The Library maintains a list of vetoes.

Following a vote, the President of the Security Council announces the result. The way the vote result is announced indicates whether a veto was exercised (emphasis added).

  • Adopted
    • "There were 14 votes in favour and one abstaining. The draft resolution has been adopted as resolution 2244 (2015)." (S/PV.7541)
  • Vetoed
    • "There were 11 votes in favour, 1 vote against and 3 abstentions. The draft resolution has not been adopted, owing to the negative vote of a permanent member of the Council." (S/PV.7498)
  • Not adopted
    • "There were 8 votes in favour, 2 votes against and 5 abstentions. The draft resolution has not been adopted, having failed to obtain the required number of votes." (S/PV.7354)
  • Procedural matter
    • "There were 10 votes in favour, 4 votes against and 1 abstention. The provisional agenda has been adopted." (S/PV.5526)

Decisions taken by vote may be of two general types: 

  • Procedural matters
    • affirmative vote of 9 members
  • All other matters
    • affirmative vote of 9 members, including the concurring votes of permanent members

From the Repertoire website: 

Most votes in the Council do not indicate by themselves whether the Council considers the matter voted upon as procedural or non-procedural. It can be determined, however, because permanent members do not have a “veto” over procedural matters. Therefore, if there is a negative vote by a permanent member, and the motion is still adopted, it is procedural in nature. 

Information here about the types of vote has been adapted from the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council, which includes more detailed analysis of the votes in the Council.

UNBISnet Voting Record Search

The UN Library in New York maintains a voting database in UNBISnet

The Voting Records database provides access to voting information for adopted Security Council resolutions. 

The database does not include information about votes on draft resolutions not adopted.

The information provided comes from the Security Council meeting records.

The database uses the following notations to present the voting information:

  • P indicates the state is a Permanent member of the Security Council
  • R indicates the state is a Rotating member of the Security Council
  • Y Yes
  • N No
  • A Abstained

Index to Proceedings of the Security Council

Since 1976 a voting chart published in the Index to Proceedings of the Security Council, provides an overview of the votes taken during the year.

The information provided is extracted from the meeting records, the official source for voting information. 

The following notations are used to present the data:

  • Y voted YES
  • N voted NO
  • A abstained from voting
  • NP not participating

Resolutions adopted without vote are indicated by a blank space.