In article 6 of the UN charter it mentions

“ A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”

It also mentions “recommendation of the security council” in many other articles in the UN charter. What exactly does this entail? Does it require the approval of a set amount of members of the security council (if so, how many?), the approval of all members of the permanent security council that are there at that time, a majority vote of the UN Security Council, something else, or a combination of all of these?

In article 27 paragraph 2 of chapter 5, the UN charter says

“ Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members.”

However, I am not sure if this includes a “recommendation of the security council,” because I am not sure if it falls under the category of “procedural matters” or under some other category.

2 Answers 2


In practice, a recommendation of the Security Council refers to the passage of a resolution by that body. Take, for example, the resolution recommending that South Sudan be admitted to the UN:

Resolution 1999 (2011)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 6582nd meeting, on 13 July 2011
The Security Council,
Having examined the application of the Republic of South Sudan for admission to the United Nations (S/2011/418),
Recommends to the General Assembly that the Republic of South Sudan be admitted to membership in the United Nations.

As you've pointed out in your question, under Article 27 of the UN Charter, this requires the affirmative vote of nine of the fifteen members of the UNSC, which must include the five permanent members if the vote is not a procedural matter. Resolutions recommending the admission of new members, for example, was held by the UNSC not to be a procedural matter in the 427th meeting on June 16th 1949.

A resolution recommending the expulsion of members is also non-procedural - take for example S/11543, a draft resolution recommending the expulsion of South Africa submitted by Kenya, Mauritania, and Cameroon in 1974. This draft resolution was not adopted despite the affirmative vote of ten members, due to the dissenting votes of France, the UK, and the USA - three permanent members. (1808th Meeting)

In general, when the UN Charter refers to a 'recommendation' or a 'decision', it means the passage of a resolution. Note that the Charter doesn't actually mention the term 'resolution' at all.

  • Can you recommend a link that goes in-depth about what is procedural and what is not procedural in the un? Mar 17, 2021 at 15:36
  • 1
    @Yay you can check out the various "Repertoires of the Practice of the Security Council" published by the UN, particularly "Section H. Voting" linked here. Part 1 & 2 of that section provide records of which matters have been decided to be procedural and non-procedural, whether that be implicitly or explicitly.
    – CDJB
    Mar 17, 2021 at 15:46

The Security Council of the UN is made up of the five permanent members and ten other members who are elected on two year terms by the General Assembly.

Most decisions are made by consensus, however when decisions are not consensual, a vote is taken. According to article 27, there is one vote allowed per member. Moreover, there are two kinds of decisions that the Security Council makes, procedural and substantive. A decision by the council takes nine yes votes; on a substantive decision, all five permanent members of the council must also concur, this need not be the case for a procedural decision.

There has been some debate as to what constitutes a procedural or a substantive issue. Between 1946 - 1991, 160 procedural decisions have been recorded and Council practise shows that such a decision is generally on whether to include an agenda item, to decide on where to hold a meeting, or to call an emergency meeting of the General Assembly and to extend participation to other members.

Thus it seems to expel a member would seem to be a substantive decision. It would require a consensual decision of the Council, or failing that, nine yes votes from the fifteen standing members, including all the votes from all five of the permanent members: China, Russia, France, USA & UK.

A member state has, up to now, never been recommended for expulsion. However, the expulsion of South Africa was notably called for by many states due to its policy of apartheid. How this was handled in the UN shows what 'expulsion' might mean even in the case where the Security Council failed to agree.

In 1974, the General Assembly called upon the Security Council to review the membership of South Africa due to its constant violation of the UN Charter and the Declaration of Universal Human Rights. A resolution drafted by Cameroon, Iraq, Kenya and Mauritania recommending immediate expulsion under Article Six was considered but was not adopted due to negative votes by three of the permanent members - France, UK & USA.

Nevertheless, after the Security Council reported back to the General Assembly their failure to adopt the resolution, the President of the General Assembly, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria ruled that South Africa was to be barred from participation in the work of the UN. This ruling was upheld by 91 votes to 22, with 19 abstentions. In subsequent missions of the UN, South Africa was not represented.

Following the successful democratic elections in South Africa in May 1994 after the dissolution of apartheid, South Africa was welcomed back to the UN in the following month.

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