Out now: “International bureaucrats in the UN Security Council debates: A speaker-topic network analysis”. 

With Stefan Eckhard (@S_eckhard), Ronny Patz (@ronpatz), and Mirco Schönfeld (@TWlyY29).


Drawn from this database, we look specifically at the UNSC debates on the situation in Afghanistan between 1995-2017 and conduct a speaker-topic network analysis to see who spoke when and about what.

Our focus is on the UN bureaucrats. We show that the UN secretariat and other representatives play an active role even in a venue were bureaucratic agency seems unlikely—the UNSC. The paper has both a quantitative and qualitative component.

In the quantitative component we combine Structural Topic Modeling and Network Analysis techniques to observe ‘speaker position’, ‘topic introduction’, and ‘topic evolution’. We observe the UN bureaucracy, at times, acts as an autonomous speechmaker introducing and pushing its own topics.

In the qualitative component we explore the concrete contributions the Secretariat made in relation to the topic ‘security and reform’. We show officials tabled a controversial policy option—expanding int. troops beyond Kabul—that was eventually accepted by the UNSC.

Overall, we find that bureaucrats—even in the UNSC—are able to (co-)shape what is considered relevant, how particular problems are understood, and, ultimately, what solutions are under consideration.

For those interested: Here is an online tool with which you can study and organize the data yourselves: https://dmwg.shinyapps.io/lingopac/.