This situation developed after February 24, 2022. The General Assembly has so far adopted seven resolutions condemning Russia over Ukraine. One of them, the annual resolution on human rights in Crimea, was adopted in the usual format, at an ordinary session of the UN General Assembly. Six resolutions were adopted at the specially convened 11th emergency session of the UN General Assembly. These emergency sessions, in accordance with the normative provisions of the General Assembly, may be held in exceptional cases of a threat to peace. Previously, the Soviet Union had been the subject of such sessions: the second emergency session of the UN General Assembly in 1956-57 for Hungary and the sixth session in 1980 for Afghanistan.
Most often, such sessions focus on Israel and Middle East-related problems (the first emergency session was in 1956 amid the Suez crisis, the third was held in 1958 amid the Lebanese crisis, the fifth in 1967 amid the Six Day War, the seventh in 1980-82 to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ninth in 1982 for the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and the tenth in 1997-2018, again to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). Another emergency session of the UN General Assembly was devoted to the crisis in the Congo (the fourth, in 1960), and one to the occupation of Namibia by South Africa (the eighth, in 1981). The very format of emergency sessions may, to some extent, imply a special responsibility of states when voting in the fight against a threat to peace. Perhaps this logic, somewhat similar to the situation described above with global solidarity in the fight against chemical weapons, could have influenced the voting among the “old” BRICS members, among other substantive factors. But whether it is true or not, here we also see examples of support by one of the “old” BRICS members for these resolutions.
In addition to the “ordinary” annual resolution on human rights in Crimea, where China voted against and the rest abstained, we see such a picture in the resolutions of the emergency session. Of these six resolutions, China twice voted against (on the suspension of Russia’s membership in the Council for Human Rights and Reparations), and abstained in other cases. India and South Africa have always abstained. Brazil voted in favour of the emergency session resolutions four times and abstained twice.
In addition to these seven resolutions, where Russia was directly in focus, the phrase about “Russian aggression against Ukraine” was included in two more resolutions of the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly periodically adopts resolutions on cooperation between the UN and various regional organisations, and also extends them from time to time. Accordingly, two such resolutions adopted after February 24, 2022 included this phrase: in November 2022 on UN cooperation with the Central European Initiative (both in the preamble and in the operative part), and in April 2023 on UN cooperation with the Council of Europe (in the preamble).
In both cases, there were also examples of votes “for” among the “old” BRICS members. The first of these resolutions passed quite quietly in the media of Russia, and the second caused a rather tangible response, due to the fact that Russia’s partners voted for a document where Russia is accused of aggression. In response, it was also said in our media field that this resolution itself has nothing to do with Russia, that it is only a phrase in the preamble, and it was not necessary to pay attention. The logic of such a vote here may also be similar to the aforementioned vote on chemical weapons. Solidarity with the activities of European regional organisations (the main subject of the resolutions) turned out to be higher than solidarity with Russia. In any case, only South Africa abstained both times, while China, India and Brazil voted in favour of both of these resolutions.
Now let’s move on to the new members of the BRICS. On the Crimean resolutions before February 24, 2022, Iran voted 10 times out of 11 against, Ethiopia 2 times, Argentina, Egypt and the UAE always abstained or did not vote, and Saudi Arabia voted yes twice (in 2014-16) and once against (in 2021). On Abkhazia and South Ossetia, out of 16 resolutions, Iran twice voted against, Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt and the UAE always abstained or did not vote, and Saudi Arabia voted in favour five times. Regarding Moldova, Saudi Arabia was in favour, Iran was against, and the rest abstained or did not vote.
On chemical weapons and Navalny: Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia all voted three times in favour, Iran voted all three times against, and Egypt abstained every time. On the seven resolutions regarding the conflict with Ukraine: Argentina voted in favour of all seven; Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia voted four times in favour, and Iran and Ethiopia voted three times against them. On the two resolutions on cooperation with European organisations: Argentina, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia voted “for” both times, Iran voted once “for”, and Ethiopia abstained both times.
Summing up, in 2008-2023, the UN General Assembly adopted 40 more or less anti-Russia resolutions. Russia voted against them all 40 times. Iran voted against them 19 times and once time “for”, China voted 16 times “against” and twice “for”, India voted 8 times “against” and 5 “for”, Ethiopia voted 5 times “against” and 3 times “for”, South Africa voted three times “against” and three times “for”, Egypt voted 6 times “for”, Brazil voted 9 times “for”, the UAE also voted “for” 9 times, Argentina voted “for” 12 times, Saudi Arabia voted “for” 17 times and once against.
Let us repeat once again, it is clear that there is no absolutely direct connection between voting in the UN and real cooperation of certain countries with Russia. We saw this in the aforementioned example of African states. And BRICS itself is developing constructively and effectively. If it were not so, then more than two dozen states would not seek to get there. But in the context of the UN battles, the “old” and new BRICS countries can be divided into four groups:
- Iran and China, in about half of all cases, vote in solidarity with Russia;
India and Ethiopia have a slight majority of votes for Russia over votes against it, while South Africa has an equal balance, but most often these countries abstain;
Egypt, Brazil and the UAE abstain about three-quarters of the time and vote against Russia about one-quarter of the time;
Argentina and Saudi Arabia most often vote against Russia.
In addition to Russia, from the enlarged BRICS, Iran is also a target of UN General Assembly resolutions. Since 1985, resolutions on human rights in Iran have been adopted there almost every year. During the period considered here since 2006, 17 resolutions have been adopted on Iran. Iran itself voted against them all 17 times. Russia and China have also voted against 17 times, India 16 against, Egypt 10 against, South Africa 7 against, Ethiopia once against, Brazil has always abstained, and the UAE has voted in favour five times and twice against. Saudi Arabia has voted “for” 7 times and “against” 3 times. Finally, Argentina voted for the anti-Iranian resolutions all 17 times.
Here we note that, unlike the resolutions on Russia, in the case of Iran, there are three examples from the “old” BRICS members voting 99-100% in absolute solidarity with Iran. These are Russia, China and India. At the same time, one of the new BRICS members takes a categorically anti-Iranian position. It isn’t even one of the Arab states of the Gulf, as one might think, but Argentina, far from Iran.
In general, we note again that the obtained numbers should not be absolutised. But at the same time, in the context of the UN General Assembly, the euphemism “collective West” gets its clear quantitative expression. As the resolutions of recent years on Russia and Iran have shown, our geopolitical opponents always have at least 60 votes in the General Assembly. As noted above, taking into account the fact that the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly does not require that the number of votes “for” exceed 50% of the UN member countries, then almost all resolutions in favour of Western countries are adopted by the Assembly. By and large, there are no reverse cases, if you do not include the anti-Israeli resolutions, the American embargo on Cuba, and the new topic (though, unfortunately, it has become, apparently, a one-time affair) — the decolonisation of the Chagos Archipelago.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has already publicly drawn attention to the situation when Western countries most often vote with a single voice, in fact, with bloc discipline; while in response there is only confusion and vacillation and there is no single solidarity vote on the part of the EAEU and the CSTO. As we can see, this is also true for the BRICS. It is clear that the principle here is that Non-West is not always equal to Anti-West, and not all non-Western countries have the same level of radicalism and revisionism in this matter. This is all understandable and, I think, there is no reason to believe that this situation will qualitatively change in the medium term. But without this, the question of the consolidation of the Non-West, which has re-emerged in connection with the expansion of the BRICS, hangs in the air. In any case, the Non-West will always get pro-Western resolutions in the UN General Assembly.