Group Politics in UN Multilateralism provides a new perspective on diplomacy and negotiations at the United Nations. Very few states ‘act individually’ at the UN; instead they often work within groups such as the Africa Group, the European Union or the Arab League. States use groups to put forward principled positions in an attempt to influence a wider audience and thus legitimize desired outcomes. Yet the volume also shows that groups are not static: new groups emerge in multilateral negotiations on issues such as climate, security and human rights. At any given moment, UN multilateralism is shaped by long-standing group dynamics as well as shifting, ad-hoc groupings. These intergroup dynamics are key to understanding diplomatic practice at the UN.
This article assesses the impact of ‘group politics’ in the particularly contentious debates of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly regarding gender equality and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The article identifies those groups that have been most active in the debates, and then analyses how and why they have shaped debates and norms in this area, how they interact with each other, and whether groups help to facilitate consensus or foster polarization in debates. The article examines the extent to which these groups are cohesive, and identifies the norms that each group puts forward in debates (through statements and resolutions). It then assesses and explains their impact on outcomes, the creation of shared norms and the potential for collective action. It further explores the implications of increasing cross-regional group activity in the Human Rights Council.
The elimination of nuclear weapons has been an objective of the United Nations (UN) since 1946. Although addressed through multiple forums, including the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, Conference on Disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the possession and renunciation of nuclear weapons nevertheless remains a topic beset by multilateral stalemate and frustration over the entrenchment of positions between nuclear- and non-nuclear weapon states. Yet within these forums, disarmament politics are taking a new turn, with the emergence of new, cross-regional, cross-factional political groups working alongside more established blocs. Focusing on these group dynamics, this article argues that the emergence of new political groups, and their interplay with others, is critical to the effective functioning of disarmament negotiations. Through cooperative information exchange, encouraging policy entrepreneurship and by challenging the rigidity of entrenched bloc positioning, these new group dynamics may make an important contribution in the search for consensus within the UN.