Updated on 6 January 2015
Chapter 6: VOTING
Section 2: Insufficient affirmative votes
Draft resolution on Palestine receives only eight affirmative votes
On 30 December 2014, the Security Council voted on a draft resolution, submitted by Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, which would have affirmed the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after adoption of the resolution, a negotiated settlement “that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967”, with a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces to be achieved by the end of 2017 (S/2014/916). Because the draft received affirmative votes from only eight Council members – Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Luxembourg and the Russian Federation – the draft resolution fell short of the nine votes required for adoption. Thus, although the United States voted against the draft resolution, its vote did not constitute a veto. That is because a veto is considered to be a negative vote by a permanent member which prevents the adoption of a decision which received at least nine affirmative votes, and so would otherwise have been approved. In addition to the negative vote of the United States, Australia also voted against the draft, while Lithuania, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda and the United Kingdom abstained (S/PV.7354). As stated in the book (page 316), failure of a draft resolution to achieve the required number of votes is “usually the result of a miscalculation of the voting intentions of the Council members by the sponsors of a draft resolution, since a low tally of affirmative votes does not put the provisions contained in the draft resolution in a good light.” While undoubtedly the decision to bring draft resolution S/2014/916 to a vote took into account the likelihood of a United States veto, it is possible that more Council members abstained than had been anticipated.
The lack of a thorough negotiating process, involving all Council members, on the draft resolution was criticized by a number of Council members in their statements after the vote. Yet interestingly, such criticisms did not necessarily correlate with the votes cast. The United States representative, who voted against the draft, stated that it had been “put to a vote without a discussion or due consideration among Council members”. She called this procedure “highly unusual, especially considering the gravity of the matter at hand.” The United Kingdom representative, who abstained, similarly expressed disappointment “that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place”. The representative of Rwanda, who also abstained, regretted that “the 15 members of the Security Council were not given a single opportunity to discuss, negotiate and improve the draft, which was drafted, negotiated and amended outside the Council”. Of those voting in favour, the representative of France expressed reservations “on the way the draft resolution was submitted”, while the Chilean representative underscored his displeasure over the “exercise as it has unfolded, with scant space for negotiation and dialogue among Council members and stakeholders”. In this connection, it will be recalled that Presidential note S/2010/507 provides, in its paragraph 42, that the members of the Security Council “reaffirm that the drafting of all documents such as resolutions and presidential statements . . . should be carried out in a manner that will allow adequate participation of all members of the Council.” A subsequent Presidential note, S/2014/268, reaffirmed the commitment of Council members “to enhancing the participation” of all Council members in the drafting of outcome documents, and to that end, encouraged penholders to “engage in timely consultations with all Council members”. A difference of perspective was evidenced in the remarks by the Permanent Observer of the Observer State of Palestine, who stated with respect to the draft resolution that there had been “four months of efforts, patience and flexibility and our serious attempts to engage” (S/PV.7354).
As pointed out in the book, in contrast to Rule 81 of the General Assembly, the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council contain no restrictions on resubmitting a draft resolution which has previously failed to be adopted. In light of two cases set out on pages 361-363, the book states that “it can be concluded that even an identically worded draft resolution, after an initial defeat, can be resubmitted by the original or another sponsor for a new vote”. It is therefore possible that Jordan, which continues to be a Council member in 2015, may call for a new vote on draft resolution S/2014/916. Given the departure from the Council at the end of 2014 of one member which voted negatively (Australia) and two members which abstained (Republic of Korea and Rwanda), in a second round of voting the draft might attain sufficient votes. However, a negative United States vote could again be anticipated which, in this instance, would constitute a veto. (This update supplements pages 316-318 of the book.)