International Organization

Research Article

Clashes in the Assembly

Erik Voeten

Abstract

I apply nominate scaling to analyze a database of Cold War and post–Cold War roll call votes in the United Nations General Assembly. I investigate the dimensionality and stability of global conflict as well as the substantive content of the voting alignments that have replaced the Cold War East-West dimension. I find that post–Cold War conflict in the UN General Assembly is mostly one-dimensional. This single dimension positions countries on a continuum that runs from a group of Western countries at one extreme to a “counterhegemonic” bloc of countries that frequently clashes with the West, and the United States in particular. Levels of democracy and wealth are important independent determinants of the voting behavior of states. The positions of countries along the single dimension are remarkably stable across time, issue area, and issue importance. Except for the Eastern European countries switching sides, they are very similar to the positions on the Cold War East-West dimension. Contrary to expectations, post–Cold War conflict shows little resemblance to Cold War North-South conflict.

Erik Voeten is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Politics, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. He can be reached at evoeten@princeton.edu.