Updated on 20 March 2016
Chapter 6: VOTING
Section 5: Voting on amendments
The Council votes on an amendment to a resolution on sexual abuse by peacekeepers
On 11 March 2016, the Council met to vote on a draft resolution, sponsored by the United States, on measures to address sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers and other field personnel. In addition to the draft resolution, the Council had before it an amendment proposed by Egypt (S/2016/239). The draft amendment conformed to Rule 31 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure, which states, inter alia, that proposed amendments “shall normally be placed before the representatives in writing.”
Under Rule 33 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure, the motion to introduce an amendment has precedence over “all principal motions and draft resolutions”, and therefore an amendment should be voted on before the draft resolution to which it relates.
At the 11 March meeting, the Council President (Angola) quoted an excerpt from Rule 36, which governs the order of voting when two or more amendments to a draft resolution are proposed. While that scenario was not in play at the 11 March meeting, the provision in Rule 36 that among several amendments, an amendment which “adds to or deletes from the text of a motion or draft resolution . . . shall be voted on first” helped identify the nature of the proposed Egyptian amendment. That amendment in fact both added to, and deleted from, paragraph 2 of the draft resolution.
The Egyptian representative, who spoke in favour of approving the amendment, and the United States representative, who spoke against it, expressed differing views as to the significance of the amendment. The Egypt representative contended that his proposed amendment “consists of a slight modification to the language in the paragraph”, whereas the United States representative asserted that the amendment “would undermine the purpose of the draft resolution”.
Paragraph 2 of the draft resolution sets out the conditions under which the Secretary-General shall replace all military units and/or formed police units of a troop- or police-contributing country (TCC/PCC) when that country has not taken appropriate steps in response to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. In the draft resolution, the Secretary-General was requested to take such a step if a TCC/PCC failed to perform any one of three required actions: a) take appropriate steps to investigate the allegation; b) hold the perpetrators accountable; and c) inform the Secretary-General of the progress of its investigations and/or actions taken. Under the Egyptian amendment, a TCC/PCC would need to fail to take all three actions for the Secretary-General to repatriate all of its personnel. The Egyptian representative justified this proposed change by saying that “The original language proposed by the United States delegation would allow taking arbitrary and unobjective decisions amounting to collective punishment against hundreds of peacekeeping personnel”. This, he claimed, “would undoubtedly have severe and negative impacts on the morale of personnel and tarnish the reputation of troop-contributing countries.”
One other facet of the proposed amendment was that it referred to “allegations”, in the plural, seeming to imply that there must be more than one instance when allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been neglected by a TCC/PCC for repatriation to come into effect. In contrast, paragraph 2 of the draft resolution speaks of “an allegation or allegations”, implying that neglect of a single instance of reported SEA would be enough to trigger repatriation of all personnel of a TCC/PCC.
Following statements by both the Egyptian and the United States representatives, the draft amendment was put to the vote. Five Council members – Angola, China, Egypt, the Russian Federation and Venezuela – voted in favour of the amendment. Senegal abstained. Voting against the amendment were nine Council members – France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.
As pointed out in the book, (page 278), a proposed amendment to a draft resolution is considered to be a question of substance, not procedure, and therefore the veto applies to such votes. However, in the case of the Egyptian amendment, the negative votes of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States were not vetoes, since the amendment failed to receive the required minimum of nine votes.
When the (unamended) draft resolution was then put to the vote, it was adopted as resolution 2272 (2016) by fourteen affirmative votes, with Egypt abstaining. Thus, four of the five Council members which had voted for the amendment, as well as Senegal which had abstained, all voted in favour of the resolution itself. The representative of Egypt highlighted his abstention, noting that, “Despite the unilateral approach to the negotiations on the draft resolution, we have chosen not to vote against it.”
The vote on the amendment did not necessarily correlate to the level at which each Council member contributes personnel to UN peacekeeping operations. Those voting in favour of the amendment are marked in bold in the following list, which uses UN data of a few days prior to the vote:
Senegal (abstained) – 3,717
China – 3,072
Egypt – 2,776
Uruguay – 1,432
France – 937
Malaysia – 885
Spain – 618
Ukraine – 505
United Kingdom – 290
Japan – 272
Russian Federation – 78
United States – 71
New Zealand – 8
Angola – 0
Venezuela – 0
Votes on amendments have been rare in the Council’s history. The last such vote took place on 3 March 1991, when the Security Council had before it a draft resolution on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. As described on page 332 of the book, Cuba proposed a total of eighteen amendments. The President (Austria), after quoting Rule 36, proposed an ordering of the amendments. The amendments were then voted upon in that order, and all failed to obtain the required number of votes. The draft resolution as originally submitted was thereafter adopted as resolution 686 (1991).
Three matters mentioned by some Council members at the adoption meeting for resolution 2272 (2016) (S/PV.7643) touched on other issues of procedure:
1) A few Council members considered that in adopting resolution 2272 (2016), the Council had acted outside its purview, and that addressing sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers instead fell within the core competence of the General Assembly and its Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34). The Russian representative, for example, stated that,
“We view the adoption by the Security Council of the resolution today as an exception to the rule.
We continue to believe that the issue of the discipline of peacekeepers is not related to the
maintenance of international peace and security. For many years these problems have been
discussed in various bodies of the General Assembly . . . We strongly support the continuation of
this established practice, which has proven to be effective.”
In parallel, the representative of Venezuela asserted that “It is very dangerous for the Security Council to assume the powers of other bodies on the grounds of the latter’s inaction.”
While it long been established practice that the General Assembly has responsibility for a number of aspects of UN peacekeeping forces, notably their funding, it is also relevant to consider that peacekeeping operations established by the Security Council are, according to most legal interpretations, considered to be subsidiary bodies of the Council. This historically has been the approach of the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, and it is also the position taken by our book (page 460). In such case, the Council was not acting outside its mandate when it adopted resolution 2272 (2016) relating to the functioning of subsidiary bodies which the Council itself has established.
2) Several Council members mentioned that the draft resolution did not originally address sexual exploitation and abuse by non-UN forces authorized by the Security Council. However, during negotiations, the resolution was expanded to apply also to such forces. Out of all the non-UN forces which have been authorized by the Security Council (see pages 654-650 in the book), six authorizations remained in effect at the time of the adoption of resolution 2272 (2016):
the Unified Command in Korea, authorized by resolutions 83 (1950) and 84 (1950) of 27 June and 10 July 1950;
the Kosovo Force (KFOR), authorized by resolution 1244 (1999) of 10 June 1999;
the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), authorized by resolution 1744 (2007) of 20 February 2007;
French troops deployed in Mali, authorized by resolution 2164 (2014) of 25 June 2014;
French forces in the Central African Republic (“Opération Sangaris”), authorized by resolution 2127 (2013) of 5 December 2013 (France formally ended "Opération Sangaris" on 31 October 2016); and
French forces in Côte d'Ivoire ("Les forces françaises en Côte d'Ivoire"), most recently authorized by resolution 2284 (2016) of 28 April 2016.
3) The representative of Venezuela stated,
“We therefore insist on the need to fully implement Article 44 of the Charter of the United Nations,
which establishes the requirement to invite troop-contributing countries to participate, in an active
and binding manner, in the decision-making process with regard to the deployment of troops in peacekeeping missions.”
Article 44 of the Charter reads:
“When the Security Council has decided to use force it shall, before calling upon a Member not
represented on it to provide armed forces in fulfilment of the obligations assumed under Article 43,
invite that Member, if the Member so desires, to participate in the decisions of the Security Council concerning the employment of contingents of that Member’s armed forces.”
While it is widely believed that interaction between the Security Council and countries contributing to UN peacekeeping missions should be optimized, it cannot be said that this is an obligation created by Article 44 of the Charter. That is because Article 44 refers to armed forces made available to the Security Council by special agreement under Article 43, a provision which has never been implemented, owing originally to Cold War divisions among the Council members. UN peacekeeping forces are not precluded by the Charter, but neither are they explicitly provided for by the Charter. Therefore, a representative of Egypt was more accurate when, in a 1994 letter (S/1994/1231), he affirmed that the Council should apply “the spirit” of Article 44 to countries contributing personnel to UN peacekeeping operations.