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/.

Presenting a new data-set: ‘The UN Security Council Debates’ (1995-2017)

We are proud to present a whole new speech corpus with all 65.393 individual contributions as part of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) debates between January 1995 and December 2017.

Available at Harvard Dataverse

Curious about what this is and what you can do with it?! We added a paper that explains in more detail how the data-set is constructed and that gives some first examples of what the data-set can reveal and what it can be used for. This paper is available on the arXiv as well as here on my website.

Developed together with:

  • Mirco Schönfeld, Technical University Munich (@TWlyY29)
  • Steffen Eckhard, University of Konstanz (@s_eckhard)
  • Ronny Patz, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich (@ronpatz)



‘We don’t do that’ — got a year, volume and issue number

A little update on my latest paper in Cooperation and ConflictIt just got up-graded from online first and now has an volume and issue number! … funny how unspectacular that has become. See also my list of publications, including a post-print (open access) copy of the paper.

‘We don’t do that’: A constructivist perspective on the use and non-use of private military contractors by Denmark
 In this article I put forward a social constructivist perspective on state use of Private Military and Security Contractors (PMSCs). I will argue that state outsourcing decisions are, to a large extent, shaped by nationally shared values, understandings and dispositions. Concretely, I first provide a detailed overview of the extent of domestic and deployed contracting by the Danish Defence and, thereafter, based on a number of semi-structured interviews, I expose the dominant understandings that shaped how PMSCs have come to be understood in Denmark. By so doing I can show that the employment of PMSCs by the Danish Defence remains comparatively limited because it is largely perceived as inappropriate and as incompatible with what it means to be ‘Danish’. Although Denmark too has to balance its international engagements with limited resources allocated to defence (the typical functional pressures) Danish particular ‘soft’ neoliberalism and ‘hard’ commitments to IHL speak against using private actors to make that possible. This means I take in the more abstract, macro-level discussions on the end of the Cold War and the advent of neoliberalism but go beyond by asking whether, and if so how, these and other collective experiences and understandings actually (co-)shape(d) outsourcing decisions.

van Meegdenburg, H. (2018). ‘We don’t do that’: A constructivist perspective on the use and non-use of private military contractors by Denmark. Cooperation and Conflict, 54(1), 25-43.