The story so far: India on February 26 abstained from voting during a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Russia’s military operation against Ukraine. The draft was submitted by the U.S. and Albania and was eventually vetoed by Russia. China and UAE also abstained from voting.
Eleven members voted in favour of the resolution. The U.S. has said that it will take the issue to the General Assembly where Russia does not have veto power.
Why did India abstain?
Explaining India’s rationale behind its choice to abstain from voting on the issue, India’s Permanent Representative (PR) to the United Nations T.S. Tirumurti said that the only way to resolve the crisis was through dialogue.
“No solution can ever be arrived at, at the cost of human lives,” Mr. Tirumurti said in his statement. He also mentioned that the country is concerned about the welfare and security of the Indian community in Ukraine as an intense war rages on.
Is this India’s first vote at the UNSC?
No. India is currently serving its eighth term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. In the past, India has voted on several resolutions regarding conflicts, including the Korean War, violence in West Asia, and so on.
UNSC Resolution 82: In 1950, India favoured the Security Council’s resolution condemning the attack on the Republic of Korea by North Korea and called for an immediate end to the fighting.
UNSC Resolution 95: In 1951, India abstained from voting on a resolution urging Egypt to stop restricting movement of ships bound for ports of Israel through the Suez Canal.
UNSC Resolution 240: In 1967, India voted in favour of the resolution condemning violations of ceasefire in West Asia that were worked out by the council in the past.
UNSC Resolution 242: In the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War fought between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria, the Security Council pressed upon the need for the acknowledgement of the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence” of all States in the area. It also asked Israel to withdraw armed forces from territories occupied in recent conflicts. India voted in favour of the resolution.
UNSC Resolution 256: The resolution was adopted unanimously in August 1968 after Israel launched air attacks on Jordan. UNSC declared that grave violations of ceasefire will not be tolerated.
UNSC Resolution 338: The resolution was adopted by the UNSC after the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and Arab States to ensure a ceasefire in the area. India voted in favour of the resolution.
UNSC Resolution 686: In 1991, India abstained from voting on a resolution on the Iraq-Kuwait War.
UNSC Resolution 688: India also abstained from voting on the matters of Iraq under this resolution that demanded an end of the “repression of civilian population” in the country.
UNSC Resolution 770: The UNSC adopted the resolution in 1992 demanding an end to fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina. India abstained from voting on the resolution.
UNSC Resolution 1973: In 2011, India abstained from voting on the resolution that demanded an immediate ceasefire during the Libyan Civil War and also approved a no-fly zone over the country.
UNSC Resolution 2615: In 2021, India voted in favour of the Security Council resolution that demanded humanitarian access for people in Afghanistan after Taliban took over the country in August 2021.
What is the role of the UNSC in maintaining peace and security?
The UNSC has 15 members at any given time. Five members— China, France, Russia, the U.S., and the U.K. are permanent members while the rest ten non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Nine “yes” votes are needed to pass a resolution in the UNSC, subject to the power of permanent members to “veto” a decision (except on procedural questions).
The UNSC’s primary responsibilities include maintaining peace and security around the world. The council promotes using peaceful means to solve most crises but can also resort to imposing sanctions in adverse cases.