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Civil conflict and agenda-setting speed in the United Nations Security Council

Binder, M. ORCID: and Golub, J. (2020) Civil conflict and agenda-setting speed in the United Nations Security Council. International Studies Quarterly, 64 (2). pp. 419-430. ISSN 1468-2478

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqaa017


The UN Security Council (UNSC) can respond to a civil conflict only if that conflict first enters the Council’s agenda. Some conflicts reach the Council’s agenda within days after they start, others after years (or even decades), and some never make it. So far, only a few studies have looked at the crucial UNSC agenda-setting stage, and none have examined agenda-setting speed. To fill this important gap, we develop and test a novel theoretical framework that combines insights from realist and constructivist theory with lessons from institutionalist theory and bargaining theory. Applying survival analysis to an original dataset, we show that the parochial interests of the permanent (P-5) members matter, but they do not determine the Council’s agenda-setting speed. Rather, P-5 interests are constrained by normative considerations and concerns for the Council’s organizational mission arising from the severity of a conflict (in terms of spillover effects and civilian casualties); by the interests of the widely ignored elected members (E-10); and by the degree of preference heterogeneity both among the P-5 and the E-10. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of how the UN works, and they have implications for the UN’s legitimacy.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:89091
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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