Deference or Disregard? The Security Council and the UN Secretariat’s Recommendations on Peacekeeping Operations

Kseniya Oksamytna, Magnus Lundgren

It is well established that secretariats of international organizations can act autonomously and produce independent effects in world politics. An important source of bureaucratic influence is expertise generated via accumulating human resources and organizational learning. We argue that conventional perspectives, equating increasing expertise with greater influence, overlook the parallel growth of expertise in member states’ bureaucracies. Introducing the concept of an “expertise differential”, we propose that the influence of international secretariats depends on the extent to which their expertise exceeds that of national bureaucracies. To test this proposition, we use original data on twenty UN peacekeeping missions comparing the mandates recommended by the UN Secretariat to those adopted by the Security Council. Our findings are three-fold. First, the Security Council’s propensity to accept the Secretariat’s recommendations has not increased over time, despite the latter’s growing expertise. Second, Council members with stronger peacekeeping expertise are more likely to alter the Secretariat’s recommendations. Third, Council members’ preferences over the trajectory of peacekeeping’s evolution differ from those of the Secretariat: the nature and novelty of recommended tasks influence the likelihood of their acceptance. These findings carry important implications for the literatures on bureaucratic influence, the evolution of international organizations, and UN peacekeeping.

Link: here

This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.