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UN General Assembly Documentation

Voting in the General Assembly

Article 18 of the UN Charter, and rules 82-95 of the Rules of Procedure, concern voting in the General Assembly.

An analysis of General Assembly voting can be found in the Repertory of Practice of UN Organs by consulting the section relating to Article 18.  

The majority of General Assembly resolutions are adopted without a vote.

If a vote is taken, it can be documented in two ways:

  • Recorded vote
    • Must be requested before the voting is conducted
    • Clearly identifies each Member State's position
  • Summary of the vote result
    • Provides the number of votes for, against, abstaining, and non-voting
    • Does not identify position of individual Member States

Voting in General Assembly Main Committees

Committee voting information can be found in the meeting records of the Committees as well as in the reports which the Committees submit to the plenary on each agenda item allocated to them. See UN Documentation: General Assembly: Main Committees research guide for additional information.

Sources for General Assembly Voting Information

There are multiple sources to find General Assembly voting information, including:

Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly

Since 1975 a voting chart published in the Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly, provides an overview of the votes taken at a particular session.

When using the chart, researchers must be aware that the method of compiling this information was changed in 1983.

Between 1975 (30th session) and 1982 (37th session), the voting information was extracted from the meeting records and thus includes notifications submitted at a later point.

The following notations are used to present the data:

  • Y votes YES
  • N votes NO
  • (Y) subsequently advised the Secretariat of intention to vote YES
  • (N) subsequently advised the Secretariat of intention to vote NO
  • (A) subsequently advised the Secretariat of intention to ABSTAIN
  • A blank space indicates that no vote was recorded.

From 1982 (37th session) onwards, data transmitted by the voting machine in the General Assembly Hall forms the basis for the chart.

As a consequence, it no longer includes the notifications subsequently submitted. To obtain this information, researchers need to consult the meeting records.