United Nations votes are not black and white

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News: Article highlights the finer details of the voting system followed at the UN and various other organs like UN Security Council.

Nature of Voting in UN System 

The UN General Assembly: The member country has various options for voting like ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Abstention’, ‘present and not participating’ or ‘absent at the time of the vote’. This makes it possible for member states to nuance their positions to suit their needs 

The UN Security Council: Here it is required that there is a “concurring votes of the permanent members. A permanent member who does not wish to cast a veto, may choose to abstain, thus allowing the resolution to be adopted (Earlier, abstention by a permanent member would amount to a veto), if it obtains the required number of nine favourable votes.

In UNSC, the members have an additional provision. It is allowed to add explanation of the vote before and after the vote. For example, China in present Ukrainian Crisis 2022, abstained from voting in UNSC. If it had voted against the resolution, it would have amounted to a veto. It would not be right for China which creates its image of a country which opposes foreign intervention in sovereign states. 

The UN regulations and practices on voting are designed to enable the delegations to express their national opinions, considering their vital national interests.  

The delegations do not vote for or against other countries. They vote for themselves.  

What are the instances of Indian Abstention in Past and Present?

In 1979, India abstained in the UN General Assembly after the Soviet Union had vetoed a Security Council resolution against its intervention in Afghanistan.  

In 2022, India abstained on the resolution criticized Russian invasion of the Ukraine in the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council.

Justification for India’s abstention

India expressed its fundamental position that war is not a solution. The diplomacy should be the only option to prevent war. 

India’s votes in the UNSC, the UNGA and the Human Rights Council reflect its current national concerns in the light of the situation in Ladakh, Afghanistan, the increasing ties between Russia and China, and its membership of the Quad.  

Source: The post is based on an article “United Nations votes are not black and white” published in the Hindu on 17th Mar 22 

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