Voting behaviour of Ukraine in the UN

Ukraine had been elected as the non-permanent member of the Security Council for four times during its membership in the UN, twice during the Soviet period in 1948-1949 and 1984-1985, and twice in the period of independence (2000-2001 and 2016-2017). In the first two periods of its membership in the Security Council, which fell during the Soviet period, the Ukrainian delegation only supported the foreign policy of the USSR. The Ukrainian representatives had to defend the interests of the metropolis, and not the national interests of their State. Voting Behaviour during two last mandates is more interesting for been analysed.

Ukraine became independent and could freely represent its national position in international arena. Thus, during the first 2-year mandate in 2000 – 2001, Ukraine supported 105 resolutions out of 106 and one time absented in voting for one of the resolutions relating to the Middle East, which was vetoed by the United States. In 2000 Ukraine had 1 opposite vote to the USA, France and the United Kingdom by voting to allow The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in Security Council discussion. Ukraine shared its position with China and Russia.

In 2001 the United States vetoed two resolutions on the Middle East. In fact, Ukraine was absent for one of these resolutions. This can be interpreted as Ukraine’s reluctance to contradict the US, but it is difficult to speak with confidence as this was an isolated incident. During 2016 – 2017 Ukraine has 100% coincidence with the United Kingdom and France. We can see the alignment of this members of the Security Council, Ukraine voted most of the votes in conjunction with the United Kingdom, France and the United States. 12 December 2017 Ukraine one time voted in opposite to the USA. It was the resolution relating to the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Ukraine with key US allies: United Kingdom, France, Italy and Japan were among the 14 countries in the 15-member council that voted in favour, USA vetoed this resolution.

After this voting the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has warned UN members she will be taking names of countries that vote to reject Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Haley writes: “As you consider your vote, I encourage you to know the president and the US take this vote personally. The president will be watching this vote carefully and

has requested I report back on those who voted against us.” Speaking at a cabinet meeting on next day, Trump amplified Haleys threat. “I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations, for all those nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the assembly. Let them vote against us. Well save a lot. We dont care. But this isnt like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars. Were not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”

21 December 2017 the UN General Assembly held an emergency session at the same topic of Status of Jerusalem that the US vetoed at the security council. The GA adopted this resolution. The United States, Israel, Honduras, Guatemala, Nauru, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau and Togo opposed the document. Ukraine and a number of other delegations did not take part in the voting. In this situation, we see that Ukraine was tempted to the threat of the United States. During the vote in the Security Council, Ukraine clearly stated its position on the issue. But after statements of the United States that they would reconsider financial aids for the countries that voted for the resolution on Israel, Ukraine had already abstained from voting on the same resolution during the emergency session of the General Assembly.

All this gives grounds for confidence in a reliance of the Ukraine on USA financial aids and that the United States use it as a lever of influence on such countries. So from the first voting of the General Assembly, Ukraine took part in them and conscientiously carried out its task of supporting the USSR in the UN. For the period of Ukraines presence in the USSR, Ukrainian representatives always conscientiously voted in alignment with the representatives of the USSR. In 1991, Ukraine obtained its independence and has become free to choose a vector of international relations. Since then, Ukraine debug diplomatic ties with many Western European countries. 14 July 1992 Ukraine has declared its desire to join the Council of Europe and in 1995 became its member.

In the same time Ukraine maintains good relations with the former republics of the Soviet Union, in 1991 Ukraine took part in the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It also began to cooperate closely with the IMF and the World Bank at the beginning of the 1990s.Particular importance has been attached to relations with the United States. This is explained by the fact that after the collapse of the USSR and with the end of the Cold War, the United States remained de facto the only superpower and played a key role in the international arena at the time. For the USA, Ukraine was also of particular importance because, as part of the USSR, it played an important role in the Cold War and had huge stocks of nuclear weapons.

In order to trace voting behaviour of Ukraine I analysed the data on the votes of Ukraine in the UN General Assembly for the period 1991-2017. The official database on UN voting is very complex to understand and to follow. For this reason, and also because of what role the United States played in Ukrainian foreign policy, I used in my work the reports of the Department of State on Voting Practices in the United Nations. As I wrote above, they statistically measure the overall voting of UN member states in comparison with the U.S. voting record. On the basis of the data received, I made a graph in which I provide a measurement of the voting coincidence of Ukraine with the United States. In the same graph, I also provide the averages of the voting coincidence in the world and in the Eastern Europe.

As I mentioned above It will be quite normal if the countries of one region have the same voting tendency. I made two line charts, the first applies to all votes in the General Assembly, and the second only to important votes. As important I selected those that were so qualified in the reports of the Department of State, votes on issues which directly affected important United States interests and on which the United States lobbied extensively.  Actually on these issues there were often major disagreements between countries. And the administration of the USA attaches great importance to this issues and tried to put pressure on other states to vote them in alignment.

The first graph shows that the change of the voting behaviour of Ukraine corresponds to the shifts of general average and Eastern European average. It is noticeable that in 2005, the indicator of Ukrainian voting behaviour increased sharply, despite the fact that for general and East European averages this indicator decreased. Since then, Ukraines indicator still higher than the East European average. This may be explained by the fact that in 2004 in Ukraine was occurred the Orange Revolution, which brought the pro-Western government to power.

Regarding the graph “important votes” we saw that until 2000 the indicator of Ukraine was not stable. This may be due to uncertainty in the vector of foreign policy or due to the independence of the international position. Since 2002, Ukraines indicator has been changing along with indicators of Eastern Europe and the world, and remains above the world average and below the Eastern Europe average. In 2005, we also, as in the previous graph, see a dramatic increase in Ukraine’s indicator. And since then, it remains much higher than the regional average, although it simultaneously varies with the other indicators.

So, based on 2 graphs, Ukrainian voting behaviour relative to the United States have improved significantly since 2005. This is supported by the reports of the USA Department of State on Voting Practices in the United Nations in 2017 qualified Ukraine as an ally, because of its highest voting coincidence with the United Nations. Based on the same reports of the Department of State, I also studied in detail the voting behaviour of Ukraine regarding issues of important votes and correlated it with the same voting behaviour of countries that could influence Ukraines foreign policy: the USA, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.

So, Ukraine has always remained fundamentally in its position on such issues as the ending of the US embargo against Cuba and on issues related to the Middle East. Ukraine all the time voted in support of resolutions for ending the embargo against Cuba, which was in opposition to the position of the United States. Also in matters of the Middle East, the positions of Ukraine and the United States were almost always divided. At the same time, Ukraines positions on these issues almost always coincided with the position of the Western European countries as France, the United Kingdom and Germany.