American Exceptionalism and United Nations Institutional Challenges in Realizing the Responsibility to Protect

United Nations Member Country Flags at the UN Headquarters in New York. Flickr.

Abstract: The fall of the Soviet Union has created complex intra-national security conflicts previously unforeseen to the United Nations (UN), challenging the institution’s efficacy and complicating the United States’ (US) role within the body. As the US continues to oscillate between a leader in international interventions and a removed state that prioritizes its own national security interests, its selectivity has formed a policy of exceptionalism within the United Nations. Throughout the most recent humanitarian conflicts, the US has selectively chosen the UN missions in which it involves itself, otherwise circumventing the Security Council (UNSC) to unilaterally interfere and/or aligning itself with alternative coalitions of the willing to retain the option rather than obligation to intervene. Most importantly, it has directly blocked multilateral negotiations over the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) (a norm that would codify shared standards under which international intervention is permissible) further complicating the potential for cooperation in crisis. Yet the UN is similarly unequipped to enforce RtoP, as certain institutional barriers such as weak mandates, insufficient communication, and the UNSC unanimity rule impede its ability to enforce and administer peacekeeping operations. Thus, this article argues that both American exceptionalism and institutional UN obstacles hinder the implementation of RtoP, while also reaffirming the norm’s benefits.

Read the Preliminary Article Here

Collective Action and Leadership Inside Lobbying Coalitions

Abstract: Lobbying coalitions are a vital way for interest groups to work together in attempting to influence the policy process. Relatively little is known, however, about the internal workings of coalitions. This research investigates the provision of leadership within coalitions. It focuses on how inter-organizational networks influence which interest groups act as leaders in which coalitions. It stresses that relationships among interest groups promote reputation, encourage trust and distrust, and enhance communication and coordination on common projects. Using a Two-Mode Exponential Random Graph Model (ERGM) with structural zeros, it examines the effects of network dependence, size, communication, and content (indicated by partisan identities) on leadership, while accounting for alternative explanations related to organizational partisanship, resources, issue context, organizational structure, and age. The results demonstrate robust, positive effects of network  dependence, communication, and content on leadership. This analysis yields significant insight on how interest groups engage in collective action when advocating their policy interests.

Read the Forthcoming Research (April 2018) Here

Human Rights Treaty Origins Travaux Project

UROP Poster

Introduction: Over roughly the last fifteen years, an emerging literature has used empirical approaches to better understand the purpose, design, and impact of international human rights treaties. Political scientists and legal scholars have considered, for instance, why states ratify treaties, the factors that predict institutional features, and whether and how treaties impact human rights performance. Despite this large body of literature, the questions of what actors, influences, and motivations shape treaty provisions—and the implications for international relations theory generally—has gone largely unexplored. That is, multilateral treaty-making has often been treated as a “black box,” with little attention to the often political origins of treaty provisions.

This study will attempt to partially open that black box by examining and quantifying the travaux preporatoires of many of the nine core UN human rights conventions. Specifically, we hope to develop a theory state preferences and examine how they predict ratification and other official behavior, to determine what factors predict how states directly influence the substantive provisions of treaties, to explain the motivations for this influence, and to show why some types of states and organizations are more influential than others.

Read the Preliminary Research Here