The Road Most Traveled By

Three Hypotheses about Influential Norms at the United Nations General Assembly Identified by Main Path Analysis

In: Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations
Rafael Mesquita Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) Graduate Program in Political Science (PPGCP) Recife Brazil

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This article applies main path analysis to UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions as a novel way to identify what documents and themes have mattered most in the evolution of the organization. Three successive corpora containing all resolutions adopted by the UNGA during its first fifteen, thirty-five, and seventy-three years were analyzed. Results show that the theme of the main path of the first fifteen sessions was Palestine, and peacekeeping/budget for the other two corpora. Three concluding hypotheses are proposed as possible explanations for this finding. Main paths in networks of international norms might be understood as indicators of ongoing issues, as a sign of groundedness, or as residue from preferential attachment. This paper trail reconstructs relevant chapters of the UN’s institutional development and reveals that texts of little fame can nonetheless be at the origin of large bodies of later works, and that jurisprudential density varies across UNGA topics.

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