United Nations General Assembly Divides over Ukraine Resolution and Belarus Amendment
UNITED NATIONS, 6 Mar 2023
25 Feb 2023 – The United States and its allies claimed victory at the United Nations with the vote on a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. The final vote was 141 for, 7 against and 32 abstentions.
But a thorough analysis suggests that the victory was not so one-sided. If one considers the votes on the Belarus amendment to condemn arms shipments to the Ukraine, the General Assembly was divided with more than half (101 countries) failing to follow the American line regarding the vote on this amendment.
Of the 91 votes that defeated the Belarus amendment, 45 were cast by Europe and the US/Canada while 46 by all the rest of the world.
Here are the operative paragraphs of the two resolutions and the voting details:
Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine Draft resolution A/ES-11/L.7:
- Underscores the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations;
- Welcomes and expresses strong support for the efforts of the SecretaryGeneral and Member States to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, consistent with the Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States;
- Calls upon Member States and international organizations to redouble support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, consistent with the Charter;
- Reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters;
- Reiterates its demand that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and calls for a cessation of hostilities;
- Demands that the treatment by the parties to the armed conflict of all prisoners of war be in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949 2 and Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, 3 and calls for the complete exchange of prisoners of war, the release of all unlawfully detained persons and the return of all internees and of civilians forcibly transferred and deported, including children;
- Calls for full adherence by the parties to the armed conflict to their obligations under international humanitarian law to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects, to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need, and to refrain from attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population;
- Also calls for an immediate cessation of the attacks on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine and any deliberate attacks on civilian objects, including those that are residences, schools and hospitals;
- Emphasizes the need to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine through appropriate, fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the national or international level, and ensure justice for all victims and the prevention of future crimes;
- Urges all Member States to cooperate in the spirit of solidarity to address the global impacts of the war on food security, energy, finance, the environment and nuclear security and safety, underscores that arrangements for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine should take into account these factors, and calls upon Member States to support the Secretary-General in his efforts to address these impacts;
- Decides to adjourn the eleventh emergency special session of the General Assembly temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly to resume its meetings upon request from Member States.
Belarus: A/ES-11/L.9 – amendment to draft resolution A/ES-11/L.7:
- After the eighth preambular paragraph, insert a new preambular paragraph reading: Noting with concern the continuing supply of weapons by third parties to the zone of conflict that obstructs the prospects for sustainable peace,
- After operative paragraph 5, insert a new operative paragraph reading: Calls for the start of peace negotiations;
- After existing operative paragraph 10, insert a new operative paragraph reading: Calls upon Member States to address the root causes of the conflict in and around Ukraine, including legitimate security concerns of Member States;
- After existing operative paragraph 10, insert a new operative paragraph reading: Also calls upon Member States to refrain from sending weapons to the zone of conflict.
Here are the voting details of the 101 countries that did not follow the American line regarding the vote on the Belarus amendment:
15 countries voted for the Belarus amendment:
52 countries abstained on the Belarus amendment:
United Arab Emirates
17 countries did not vote on the Belarus amendment although they voted for the final resolution:
4 countries did not vote on the Belarus resolution while they abstained on the final resolution:
Central African Republic
13 countries did not vote on the Belarus or the final resolution:
Note 1: The fact that a country does not vote on a resolution is not always a political statement. However, in this case, 21 countries did not vote on the Belarus amendment but voted or abstained on the final resolution while no country did the opposite, voting or abstaining only on the Belarus amendment. The other 13 that failed to vote on either the amendment or the resolution tend to be aligned with other countries that abstained rather than being aligned with the US, NATO and their allies. Thus it seems likely that in most cases the absence of a vote was a political statement, and it has been counted as such here.
Note 2: The representative of Mexico voiced his regret that the last-minute amendments by Belarus had not been tabled in sufficient time for their full consideration.
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