U.N. General Assembly 56th Session: Result of the Vote

In the December 2001 issue of Palestine & The UN, a brief overview was given regarding the voting results on a package of resolutions related to Palestine that was adopted by the 56th session of the U.N. General Assembly. A complete list of voting results could not be included in that issue since, as of the date of print, the majority of resolutions had been voted on by the Committees, but not all had been voted by the Assembly.

As previously noted, the 19 Palestinian resolutions were adopted by the traditional overwhelming majority of Member States. While the overall numbers in the voting did not change substantially, there were some new developments that emerged in the voting on the resolutions in that package as well as during the vote on the two resolutions of the 10th emergency special session (ESS), which were also adopted in December. A brief analysis of these follows as well as a complete list of the voting results on the 19 Palestinian resolutions adopted by the General Assembly during its 56th session.

The most prominent development in the pattern of voting on Palestinian resolutions involved the European Union (EU). Traditionally, the EU has adopted unified stances, voting in favor, or occasionally abstaining, as a bloc on these resolutions. During the 56th session, there was a split in the EU pattern of voting, which was led by the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany, who took less favorable positions on one resolution by abstaining rather than voting in favor. Along with the U.K. and Germany, the countries that underwent this change in voting included Denmark, Netherlands and Norway (not an EU member), which decided to abstain on the resolution on the Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine. Further, the U.K was the only EU member to abstain on one of the resolutions of the 10th ESS.

This change in the voting was also mirrored in the votes of some Eastern European countries that went along with the U.K./Germany position by casting additional abstentions. Such countries included, for example, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, TFYR of Macedonia and the Baltic States. Australia and Canada, who typically vote similar to the EU, took a step backwards in their voting during both sessions by not only abstaining on the Peaceful Settlement resolution but also abstaining on both resolutions of the 10th ESS.

Another apparent change in the voting during the 56th session was the casting of more negative votes by some Pacific Island nations such as Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Tuvalu, which seemed to inexplicably align themselves with the U.S. to the point of raising questions about the independence of their foreign policy.

There were also improvements in the voting patterns of some Member States during the session. Several countries, which in the past may have abstained on some resolutions or been frequently absent during the votes on Palestinian resolutions, improved their record to voting in favor of all the Palestinian resolutions. These countries included, inter alia, Armenia, Belize, Benin, Cote díIvoire, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago.

As for the results of the voting on the two resolutions of the 10th ESS, namely resolutions ES-10/8 and ES-10/9, the overall numbers reflected less participation of Member States than during previous sessions. This decline in the number of States voting could be attributed to the timing of the convening of the 10th ESS towards the end of the General Assemblyís 56th session and just before the holiday break. It appears that several country representatives were either unaware of the convening of the 10th ESS or were likely absent from New York at the time.

Nevertheless, the vote on those two resolutions was positive, with the majority of Member States present voting in favor of the resolutions, reflecting the serious concern of the international community with regard to ongoing illegal Israeli actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the need to address the crisis situation on the ground in the absence of necessary action by the Security Council.

Overall, the voting pattern on Palestinian resolutions at the U.N. is reflective of the broad and unwavering support of Member States for the Palestinian people. The annual adoption of these resolutions by the overwhelming majority of countries reaffirms the firm convictions of the international community with regard to the question of Palestine and the continuing important, and indeed central, role of the U.N. and international law in this regard.