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Research Guides

UN Voting

Overview of Voting

UN bodies may adopt resolutions and decisions:

Voting may happen in any UN principal organ or body.

In general, voting takes place:

  • In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the Rules of Procedure of the body
  • During formal meetings
  • On draft resolutions, draft decisions, or procedural matters
    • Sometimes votes are held paragraph by paragraph until a final text is agreed upon
  • Members of the body may vote
    • Yes, or In favour
    • No, or Against
    • Abstain
    • Non-voting
  • Only members of the body can vote
    • The Security Council regularly invites non-members of the Security Council to participate in meetings, without the right to vote

Explanation of vote (see FAQ: Where can I find statements made in "explanation of vote"?)

UN reference resources such as the the UN Yearbook, the Repertory of Practice, the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council and the Index to Proceedings can be useful for understanding and interpreting voting in the UN.

Types of Voting

There are different types of vote that may be held.

  • Recorded vote
  • Summary of vote (Non-recorded vote)
    • How many for, against, abstaining and non-voting
    • Individual votes are not reported
    • example: A/PV.320
  • Secret ballot

Sources of Voting Information

Voting information is available in several different places, depending on the body, its documentation, and its practices.

  • Meeting records
    • If the body issues meeting records, the vote will be recorded in the meeting at which the draft was considered and voted on
    • example: S/PV.7853
  • Compilation of resolutions and decisions for the session or year
  • Report to a parent organ (sometimes called annual or sessional reports)
    • If the body reports to a parent organ, votes will be recorded in the report
    • example: A/71/53
  • Press releases
    • Sometimes a press release may provide preliminary, unofficial voting information
    • example: GA/11866
  • Voting databases
    • The Dag Hammarskjold Library maintains Voting Data in the UN Digital Library for resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and Security Council
    • The OHCHR Library maintains Voting Data for resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council