Agenda Setting in the United Nations


Courtenay R. Conrad

Nathan W. Monroe

Political Science

University of California, Merced

A wealth of international relations literature focuses on the effect of procedural voting rules and alignments on political outcomes in the United Nations (UN). But voting rules are not the only institutions that affect outcomes in legislative bodies. There is a substantial literature, born in studies of the US Congress, which considers the sources and consequences of agenda power in legislative institutions. The ability to determine what gets on the agenda—that is, what gets discussed and/or voted on in a given legislative body—can significantly influence policy outcomes of the legislative process.

In this project, we plan (1) investigate agenda setting procedures in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), (2) develop theories of agenda setting to explain the conditions under countries can manipulate the agenda to wield disproportional power over United Nations decisions, and (3) test the implications of these theories using newly-collected, original data that tracks UN proposal items from inception to final disposition.