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10 J. Conflict Resol. 1 (1966)

handle is hein.journals/jcfltr10 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Majority decisions and

minority responses in the

UN General Assembly


I. Introduction
  Twenty years ago, when the representa-
tives of 50 countries met in San Francisco
to found the United Nations, they decided
to adopt a new rule of international deci-
sion-making-the rule of the majority. The
defunct League of Nations had gradually
reduced the severity of the principle of
unanimity which it took over from the prac-
tice of centuries of international confer-
ences and applied to decisions of both its
principal organs, the League Assembly and
Council (Riches, 1933). But those who
drafted the UN Charter in 1945 completely
abandoned the unanimity principle in favor
of majority or qualified majority voting, by
equal voting states, for the representative
political organ-the    General Assembly.
Some two thousand resolutions later, the
Nineteenth Session of the General Assem-

  'This article is adapted from a chapter of an
unpublished doctoral dissertation, Weighted
Voting in the UN General Assembly: A Study
of Feasibility and Methods (American Uni-
versity, 1964). The author is a statistician in
the U.S. Census Bureau, Washington; the re-
search reported here has no relation to official

bly returned once more to unanimity as the
basis for decision-making. In that crisis-
ridden session, decisions were limited to
those few matters that all could agree
  The crisis had its origin in the refusal of
two permanent Security Council members
(France and the USSR) to accept assess-
ments imposed by a General Assembly ma-
jority decision, even though the binding
nature of those budgetary obligations was
upheld by the International Court of Jus-
tice. The Charter provides a sanction
against this particular form of noncompli-
ance in Article 19, but no member state
was willing to risk the consequences of
invoking that sanction by taking away
the Assembly voting rights of those in ex-
cessive arrears. In the absence of agree-
ment on a compromise between the princi-
pal parties to the conflict-the United
States and the Soviet Union-the Assem-
bly decided to hold the problem in abey-
ance. This course was more attractive
than solving the problem either by sacri-
ficing part of the Assembly's authority or
by risking defections of important Mem-

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