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Updated on 3 September 2020


Section 6:   Motions, proposals, and suggestions


Resolution 2538 (2020) on women in peacekeeping is announced as a ‘presidential text’


On 28 August 2020, via webcast, the representative of Indonesia, as Security Council President for the month, announced that the Council’s first stand-alone resolution on women in peacekeeping operations had been unanimously adopted in accordance with the written procedures observed by the Council during the pandemic.[1]  The President also noted that resolution 2538 (2020), having been co-sponsored by all 15 Council members, was a ‘presidential text’.[2] 


The term ‘presidential text’ is similar to ‘presidential statement’, ‘presidential letter’ and ‘presidential note’ because in each of these cases, full consensus has been given to the Security Council President by all Council members to act on their behalf.


‘Presidential texts’ have been surprisingly rare.[3]  Out of the 281 resolutions adopted from 2016 to the present, only seven have been presidential texts: 


  • 25 January 2016, resolution 2261 (2016) on the situation in Colombia

  • 13 September 2016, resolution 2307 (2016) also on Colombia

  • 6 October 2016, resolution 2311 (2016) recommending the appointment of António Guterres as Secretary-General

  • 15 December 2016, resolution 2325 (2016) on the comprehensive review of implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) on preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism to non-state actors

  • 20 September 2017, resolution 2378 (2017) on UN peacekeeping reform

  • 30 October 2018, resolution 2439 (2018) on Ebola

  • 28 August 2020, resolution 2538 (2020) on women in peacekeeping operations


As can be seen, before the adoption of resolution 2538 (2020) on women in peacekeeping operations, the next most recent presidential text was almost two years previous:  resolution 2439 (2018) on Ebola of 30 October 2018.

Out of the seven cases since 2016, in four instances the Council President indicated at the time of adoption that the drafts were ‘presidential texts’:  the two resolutions on Colombia (S/PV.7609, S/PV.7768); the resolution on Ebola (S/PV.8385), and the resolution on women in peacekeeping (S/2020/856). 


The earliest case of a draft resolution being presented by the President ‘in his capacity as President of the Council’ was resolution 233 (1967) on the Middle East.  The exact term ‘presidential text’ came into use subsequently with the adoption of resolutions 364 and 365 on Cyprus in 1974.


When draft resolutions co-sponsored by all Council members are published after the vote as official S/ documents, the term ‘presidential text’ is not shown.  If the only co-sponsors are the 15 Council members, no names are listed.  In contrast, when fewer than all 15 are co-sponsors, each name is printed on the published draft.  If any non-Council Member States join in as co-sponsors of a ‘presidential text’, then the names of all co-sponsors, including the 15 Council members, are shown.


Declaring that a draft is a ‘presidential text’ has no legal effect on the resolution once adopted.  However, when all of the 15 Security Council members go beyond merely voting in favor of a draft to becoming co-sponsors, an announcement that the draft is a ‘presidential text’ becomes an opportunity to indicate publicly the high level of support achieved by the Council for a particular resolution. 


(This update supplements pages 268 to 269 of the book.)


[1] See related article on this website.

[2] The draft was initiated by Indonesia.  An additional 82 non-Council States joined as co-sponsors.

[3] This is surprising also considering how many Council resolutions are adopted unanimously.  In 2019, 44 out of 52 resolutions were adopted unanimously.  So far in 2020, 40 out of 47 resolutions have been so adopted.

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