When It Comes to U.N. Diplomacy, Not All Abstentions Are Equal

When It Comes to U.N. Diplomacy, Not All Abstentions Are Equal
A screens displays the results of a vote on a resolution regarding the war in Ukraine at United Nations headquarters, March 24, 2022 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

When a state abstains on a vote concerning a crisis at the United Nations, it may look like it is avoiding hard choices about the problem at hand. But U.N. diplomacy is rarely that simple. When diplomats cast an abstention in the Security Council or General Assembly, they are often sending subtler signals about their interests and priorities. In recent weeks, U.N. members from China to Burkina Faso have abstained on a series of votes in U.N. forums on the war in Ukraine, or just not voted on them. What do such ambiguous votes and nonvotes mean? To see how […]

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