top of page

3 May 2021


Section 5:   Motions, proposals, and suggestions


Resolution 2573 (2021) on protecting critical infrastructure is Council’s latest ‘presidential text’


On 27 April 2021, at the close of a VTC open debate on ‘Critical infrastructure: The protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population’, the Foreign Minister of Viet Nam, chairing as Council President, announced the unanimous adoption of resolution 2573 (2021) on that topic.  It was the third resolution within a year’s time to be a ‘presidential text’, that is, a draft co-sponsored by all 15 Council members. 


The term ‘presidential text’ is similar to ‘presidential statement’, ‘presidential letter’ and ‘presidential note’, in that each signifies that Security Council members have, with full consensus, authorized the Council President to act in the name of the Council, in this case, to put forward the draft resolution on behalf of all 15 members. 


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.


In 2021, another ‘presidential text’ was also adopted.  The Council’s second resolution on COVID-19 – resolution 2565 (2021) – demanded that all parties to armed conflicts effect a humanitarian pause to facilitate vaccination and requested that reports submitted to the Council identify ‘those disrupting or blocking efforts to establish vaccination pauses.’[1] 


The third recent “presidential text”, adopted on 28 August 2020, was resolution 2538 (2020), the Council’s first ever stand-alone resolution on women in peacekeeping operations.


Despite the fact that a significant majority of Council resolutions are adopted unanimously, drafts co-sponsored by all 15 Council members are relatively rare.  From 2011 to 2021, out of the 537 resolutions adopted unanimously, only 23 were ‘presidential texts’.  In addition to the three resolutions cited above, these include: 



  • Resolution 2439 (2018) on Ebola

  • Resolution 2403 (2018) setting the date for an election to fill a vacancy on the International Court of Justice (ICJ)



  • Resolution 2378 (2017) on UN peacekeeping reform

  • Resolution 2377 (2017) on the situation in Colombia

  • Resolution 2366 (2017) on the situation in Colombia



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

  • Resolution 2324 (2016) paying tribute to outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

  • Resolution 2311 (2016)[2] recommending appointment of António Guterres as Secretary-General

  • Resolution 2307 (2016) on the situation in Colombia

  • Resolution 2261 (2016) on the situation in Colombia



  • Resolution 2231 (2015) on the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)



  • Resolution 2177 (2014) on Ebola

  • Resolution 2150 (2014) on the prevention and fight against genocide



  • Resolution 2118 (2013) on procedures for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme

  • Resolution 2086 (2013) on multidimensional peacekeeping



  • Resolution 2034 (2012) setting the date for an election to fill an ICJ vacancy



  • Resolution 1999 (2011) recommending admission of South Sudan to the UN

  • Resolution 1997 (2011) on the withdrawal of the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)

  • Resolution 1987 (2011)[2] recommending Ban Ki-moon for a second term as Secretary-General

  • Resolution 1969 (2011) extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste for a final year


That a draft is a ‘presidential text’ has no legal effect on the resolution once adopted.  However, when all 15 Security Council members go beyond merely voting in favor of a draft to becoming co-sponsors, this signifies politically the high level of support achieved by the Council for that resolution. 


At adoption meetings or VTC announcements of votes, practice has varied as to whether or not the Council President explicitly states that a resolution is a ‘presidential text’.  To do so is optional, since a draft co-sponsored by all 15 members will be considered a ‘presidential text’ even when the Council President omits stating this.


During the VTC on the adoption of resolution 2573 (2020) on women in peacekeeping, the Council President (Indonesia) specifically noted that the draft, having been co-sponsored by all 15 Council members, was a ‘presidential text’.  The Council President (Bolivia) made a similar explicit statement with respect to the resolution on Ebola, as did the President (Australia) concerning the resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons programme.


Alternatively, Council Presidents in some instances have merely stated that all 15 members have co-sponsored the draft resolution.  This was the case when the President (Viet Nam) announced the adoption of resolution 2573 (2021) on protecting critical infrastructure, as well as when the President (United Kingdom) announced the adoption of resolution 2565 (2021) on COVID-19.  This was also the case when several Presidents (Ethiopia, China, New Zealand and Uruguay) referred to the draft resolutions on Colombia listed above, as well as when the President (New Zealand) presented the JCPOA draft resolution.


Yet another approach which has sometimes been followed is for the Council President simply to read out the list of co-sponsors without adding that these include all 15 Council members.  Or, Presidents may say that a draft has been ‘prepared in the course of the Council’s prior consultations’.  This latter formulation is common for more routine matters such as setting the date for an election to fill a vacancy on the ICJ.


In present practice, one way to determine if a draft resolution is a ‘presidential text’ is by checking the meeting record for the names of co-sponsors read out by the President.  Another way is by looking at the draft resolution issued as an S/ document.  The term ‘presidential text’ does not show on the published draft, but if the only co-sponsors are the 15 Council members, customarily no names will be listed.[3]  In contrast, when a resolution is sponsored by fewer than all 15 Council members, each name is printed on the draft. 


If, however, non-Council Member States additionally join as co-sponsors, that a draft is a ‘presidential text’ becomes less obvious, because in that case the names of all co-sponsors – both Council and non-Council members – will be listed in both the meeting record and on the published draft resolution.  And in the case of recent ‘presidential texts’, a significant number of non-Council Member States joined as co-sponsors:  50 for resolution 2573 (2021); 100 for resolution 2565 (2021); and 82 for resolution 2538 (2020).


For prior decades, because the sponsorship of earlier resolutions was often less formal, it can be more difficult to determine from meeting records or published drafts if a resolution was a ‘presidential text’. 


As can be seen, recent cases of ‘presidential texts’ have occurred both with respect to thematic or cross-cutting topics, like peacekeeping or pandemics, and also regarding country-specific situations, such as those on Iran’s nuclear programme or Colombia.  The case of Colombia is interesting because while the initial four resolutions on that situation were ‘presidential texts’, from 2018 forward, drafts on Colombia have been sponsored only by the United Kingdom.


As noted above, there is no legal significance to an adopted resolution having been a ‘presidential text’.  However, especially during times such as the period since 2011, when the Council has been sharply divided when voting on issues such as Syria, Ukraine or the Palestinian question, the strong unanimity behind a particular resolution which is a ‘presidential text’ becomes all the more significant.


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


[1] The Council’s first resolution on COVID-19, resolution 2532 (2020), was not a ‘presidential text’, but rather was co-sponsored only by France and Tunisia.

[2] Adopted at a private meeting.

[3] One exception, however, is that it is customary to list all 15 Council members on draft resolutions recommending a candidate for Secretary-General to the General Assembly, despite the fact that there are never non-Council Member State co-sponsors for those drafts. 



bottom of page