Are UN resolutions binding?
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Resolutions and decisions are formal expressions of the opinion or will of UN organs. Many types of resolutions on a broad range of topics have been adopted by the principal organs and their subsidiaries since the establishment of the organization in 1945.
Some examples of the various types of resolutions and decisions are:
- admission of States to UN membership (e.g. A/RES/65/308)
- adoption of the budget (e.g. A/RES/68/248 A-C)
- election of members to UN bodies (e.g. General Assembly decision 68/403, in A/68/49 (Vol.II) p. 4)
- establishment of peacekeeping missions (e.g. S/RES/2100 (2013))
- final text of multilateral treaties (e.g. A/RES/61/177)
- political declarations (e.g. A/RES/63/1)
- procedural matters (e.g. A/RES/67/250)
- sanctions (e.g. S/RES/1373 (2001))
- taking note of a report (e.g. E/RES/2014/9)
The nature of the resolution determines if it is considered binding on States.
See, for example, the Secretariat's legal opinion of 9 May 1986, on "Questions relating to the voting procedure and decision-making process of the General Assembly—General rule applicable to the calculation of the majority required for the adoption of resolutions and decisions by the General Assembly—Exceptions to the rule—Effect of absence or non-participation on the binding force of resolutions and decisions", published in the UN Juridical Yearbook, 1986, p. 274 (English) (see link below).
In general, resolutions adopted by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, are considered binding, in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter.
Legal scholars have various opinions on this question. See, for example, selected articles and books listed in the Links section below.
Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.