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UN Documentation: Overview

Overview of Voting

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

Types of Vote

Votes may be:

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

Related Research Guides

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
    • example: S/PV.7853
  • 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
  • Compilation of resolutions and decisions for the session or year
    • For the principal organs, the compilations now include voting for adopted resolutions
    • example: A/70/49(Vol.I)
  • Voting database
    • The Dag Hammarskjold Library maintains a database of voting information for resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and Security Council

Voting Documentation by Body

For each body listed below, we have highlighted the type of document and the research resources where voting information may be found.

Another useful resource for historic research is the UN Yearbook.

Research on Drafts that Fail to be Adopted

Finding information about draft decisions or resolutions not adopted can be very challenging.

Information for adopted resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council may be found in the Voting Data collection of the UN Digital Library.

In the Security Council a draft does not pass:

Research Recommendations

If the topic, date and body is known, this will help narrow the search. The meeting record of the meeting at which the vote was held will have the vote, even if the draft was not adopted.

In the Digital Library, search for "draft resolution was not adopted".

Secondary sources, the UN Yearbook, the Repertory of Practice, the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council and the Index to Proceedings may also be of help.

Ask DAG! Voting