by Brian Frederking, McKendree University and Christopher Patane, University of Missouri
Does the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) act as a legitimate organization, or is it guided by the self-interest of its members? We evaluate UNSC legitimacy through the way it sets its agenda regarding meetings and resolutions surrounding armed conflicts. Pessimists argue that political concerns between UNSC members and their trade partners or allies that may be the subject of a meeting or resolution. The result is that the UNSC will not effectively address the conflicts that require the most attention. Optimists argue that the UNSC largely follows its founding logic and addresses the most severe conflicts.
Looking across UNSC activity during 40 conflicts from 1991-2013, we test whether Security Council meetings and resolutions are held because of strategic interests between members and target states or if they are driven by the context of the conflict itself. Our analysis supports the idea of the UNSC as a legitimate organization. Meetings and resolutions are held based on refugee flows and deaths generated by the conflict instead of pre-existing trade links between conflict participants and USNC members.