International Organization


The new politics of voting alignments in the United Nations General Assembly

Soo Yeon Kima1 and Bruce Russetta2

a1 Candidate in Political Science at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

a2 Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.


Voting patterns in the United National General Assembly provide an exceptionally good set of evidence for observing issues and alignments of states in international politics. We analyze those patterns in three post-cold war sessions of the General Assembly and compare them with the alignments and issues that characterized sessions during the cold war. We find new groups and alignments (with most of Eastern Europe now voting with rather than against West European positions) and a new prominence of long-term North-South issues as they now relate to questions of redefining “human security” in the post-cold war world. The predominant General Assembly division is between richer and poorer nations. Key correlates of voting with the North are wealth, democracy, and proportionately low levels of trade with the United States.