U.N. General Assembly supports symbolic move to allow Palestine full membership

Video source: Politico

On Friday 10th May 2024, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution which upgrades Palestine’s rights and privileges as an Observer State and calls on the U.N. Security Council to favourably reconsider Palestine’s request for full membership.

The 193-member General Assembly approved the Arab and Palestinian-sponsored resolution by 143 votes for, 9 against (including the United States and Israel) and 25 abstentions. Australia decided to join the vast majority of member states by voting in favour of this resolution.1

The General Assembly vote reflects broad global support for Palestine achieving full membership, with many countries expressing outrage at the ever-increasing death toll in Gaza, now exceeding 35,000, and fears of a major Israeli assault on the southern city of Rafah where around 1.3 million Palestinians are currently sheltering.

Since membership to the world body can only be approved with the backing of the Security Council, the General Assembly vote is regarded as a symbolic move after the U.S. vetoed a similar proposal in the 15 member Security Council on 18th April 2024.2

Consistent with its general support for Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, the U.S. has indicated that it will again block a resolution for full Palestinian membership and hence statehood if submitted to the Security Council in the near future.

What does the resolution mean?

By adopting the resolution on 10th May, the General Assembly will upgrade the rights and privileges of the State of Palestine within the world body. However, this excludes its right to vote or put forward its candidature to such organs as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council.

None of the upgrades in status will take effect until the new session of the U.N. General Assembly opens on 10 September 2024.

Listed below are some of the changes in status that Palestine has been granted:

(a)  To be seated among Member States in alphabetical order
(b)  Make statements on behalf of a group
(c)  Submit proposals and amendments and introduce them
(d)  Co-sponsor proposals and amendments, including on behalf of a group
(e)  Propose items to be included in the provisional agenda of the regular or special sessions and the right to request the inclusion of supplementary or additional items in the agenda of regular or special sessions
(f)  The right of members of the delegation of the State of Palestine to be elected as officers in the plenary and the Main Committees of the General Assembly
(g)  Full and effective participation in UN conferences and international conferences and meetings convened under the auspices of the General Assembly or, as appropriate, of other UN organs.3

Breakdown on U.N. General Assembly vote

Below is a breakdown of how each country voted on the General Assembly resolution:

For (143):
A:  Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan
B:  Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi
C:  Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus
D:  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic
E:  East Timor, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia
F:  France
G:  Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana
H:  Haiti, Honduras
I:  Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Ivory Coast
J:  Jamaica, Japan, Jordan
K:  Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan
L:  Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg
M:  Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar
N:  Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway
O:  Oman
P:  Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal
Q:  Qatar
R:  Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russia, Rwanda
S:  Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria
T:  Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey
U:  Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan
V:  Vietnam
Y:  Yemen
Z:  Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against (9):
A:  Argentina
C:  Czech Republic
H:  Hungary
I:  Israel
M:  Micronesia
N:  Nauru
P:  Palau, Papua New Guinea
U:  United States.

Abstained (25):
A:  Albania, Austria
B:  Bulgaria
C:  Canada, Croatia
F:  Fiji, Finland
G:  Georgia, Germany
I:  Italy
L:  Latvia, Lithuania
M:  Malawi, Marshall Islands, Monaco
N:  Netherlands, North Macedonia
P:  Paraguay
R:  Republic of Moldova, Romania
S:  Sweden, Switzerland
U:  Ukraine, United Kingdom
V:  Vanuatu.4

Notes
1. Daniel Hurst and Tory Shepherd, ‘Australia’s support for UN resolution on Palestinian membership ‘not recognition of statehood’’, The Guardian, May 11, 2024.
2. Al Jazeera, ‘US blocks Palestinian push for full UN membership at Security Council’, News, Apr 18, 2024.
3. United Nations, ‘UN General Assembly presses Security Council to give ‘favourable consideration’ to full Palestinian membership’, News, May 10, 2024.
4. Al Jazeera, ‘UN backs Palestine’s bid for membership: How did your country vote?’, Explainer, May 10, 2024.

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