Update Report

Update Report No. 6: Montenegro’s Admission to the UN

Update Report in  Word Format • PDF Format

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to recommend to the General Assembly on 22 June that Montenegro be admitted to the UN. The Council met today in closed session to give initial consideration to Montenegro’s application for membership of the United Nations. In accordance with the Council Provisional Rules of Procedure, a Council Committee on Admission of New Members was formed. The Committee met later in the afternoon and is expected to present a report containing a draft resolution on the admission of Montenegro for the Council’s consideration tomorrow morning.  At its session on 22 June the Council is expected to adopt a resolution recommending to the General Assembly that Montenegro be admitted to the UN, and to issue a presidential statement.

Key Facts
On 21 May Montenegro held a referendum where 55.5 percent of the voters chose independence from Serbia.  Two weeks later on 4 June it formally declared independence in a special session of parliament.

On 5 June the President of the Montenegro, Filip Vujanovic, applied for UN membership for Montenegro by sending a letter to the Secretary-General, as required in rule 134 of the Rules of procedure of the General Assembly and attaching the formal declaration of acceptance of the obligations contained in the Charter required under that Rule for a state wishing to join the UN. 

Although Serbia had supported preserving the union with Montenegro, it accepted the outcome of the Montenegrin referendum and declared its own sovereignty on 7 June.  Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica announced that Serbia would become the legal successor to the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Following this the President of Serbia, Boris Tadic sent a letter to the Secretary-General informing him that the membership of Serbia and Montenegro in the United Nations would be continued by the Republic of Serbia. 

On 16 June the Secretary-General transmitted the application of Montenegro to the Security Council and the General Assembly.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was an original member of the United Nations but the situation became complicated after Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia declared independence from Belgrade in 1991 (Croatia and Slovenia) and 1992 (Bosnia and Macedonia). On 19 September 1992 the Security Council recommended to the General Assembly that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia apply for new membership rather than automatically continue membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations.   Finally in 2000, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was admitted as a Member of the United Nations by General Assembly resolution 55/12 of 1 November 2000. Following the adoption of the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro by the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 4 February 2003, the name of the State of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was changed to Serbia and Montenegro.

Process of Becoming a Member of the UN
In 1945 when the UN was formed it had 51 original members. Today there are 191 members.  There were two phases which saw large increases in the membership of the UN.  The first, in the 1960s was during the initial period of decolonisation and 43 new states joined the UN. Then from 1990 to 1999, 33 states became UN members largely as a result of the break-up of the former Soviet Union and other socialist states.  The last two members, Switzerland and Timor-Leste, were admitted in September 2002.

Under article 4 of the UN Charter membership is open “…to all peace loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present charter and in the judgement of the Organisation are able and willing to carry out these obligations”.  Accordingly, there is no automatic right of entry. Instead there is a requirement for a deliberate exercise of discretion by the Organisation, which is always taken seriously.

Article 4 goes on to provide that new member nations are admitted to the UN by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. 

Rule 58 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council and rule 134 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly state:

Any State which desires to become a Member of the United Nations shall submit an application to the Secretary-General. This application shall contain a declaration made in a formal instrument that it accepts the obligations contained in the Charter.

In accordance with the Charter and the Rules set out above the practical process of admitting a new member is as follows:

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1691 (22 June 2006) recommended Montenegro for membership.
  • S/RES/1326 (31 October 2000) recommended Yugoslavia for UN membership.
  • S/RES/777 (19 September 1992) recommended to the General Assembly that Yugoslavia had to apply rather than automatically continue membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations.

 Selected General Assembly Resolutions

  • A/RES/57/3 (27 September 2002) was the General Assembly approval of Timor-Leste’s application for UN membership.
  • A/RES/55/12 (1 November 2000) admitted Yugoslavia as a member of the UN.

 Recent Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2006/27 (22 June 2006) on Montenegro’s application for UN membership
  • S/PRST/2002/23 (24 July 2002) on Timor-Leste’s application for UN membership
  • S/PRST/2000/30 (31 October 2000) on Yugoslavia’s application for UN membership
Other Documents
  • S/2006/425 is the report of the Committee on the Admission of New Members for Montenegro’s admission to the UN. 
  • S/2006/409 (5 June 2006) was the application of Montenegro for membership to the UN transmitted to the Council and General Assembly on 16 June.

As predicted in the above Update Report, the Council recommended to the General Assembly on 22 June that Montenegro be admitted as a member of the UN.  The General Assembly is expected to approve the Council recommendation on 28 June.