The recent vote at the UN to allow Saudi Arabia on women rights council shed light onto something else: country votes are secret. Apparently, the only way wikileaks found to ask for the vote Sweden casted was to issue a reward for documents on this vote. The method used suggests that these would be acquired illegally, and that legal action would not lead anywhere.

The usual justification of the secret ballot for individuals is to avoid intimidation. The reason is not clear for countries, especially since ballots are public at the general assembly votes.

What is the justification for the secret ballot of countries ? Why use it only for some UN votes, not all or none of them ?

  • If you will not be able to lie in politics, it would be called differently. How else you can tell the citizens of your country that you support A if everyone knows you voted for B. But even in the case when you claimed to support A and people found you voted for B, you can just say - 'it was complicated, we didn't understood something, we are sorry'. Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


Under United Nations rules of procedure, all elections are held by secret ballot.


Rule 92 [103] [See annex V, para. 16]

All elections shall be held by secret ballot. There shall be no nominations.

And the vote to allow Saudi Arabia on the women's rights council is an election.

Though the UN does not explicitly mention why secret ballots are used in election, it's likely that they want voting to be confidential since they are secretive in nature, similar to individuals voting.

Nevertheless, the election is conducted in accordance to the Rules of Procedure as linked above.

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