Legislative Networks and Agenda-Setting in the UNGA and UNSC

Sabrina Arias and Robert Shaffer (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract: How do the agendas of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) influence each other? Which of these foundational UN institution leads, and which lags? How often do these chambers devote attention to the same issues? Do these patterns vary by issue area or over time? Are do legislative networks vary in density by issue area? To address these questions, we employ a multi-method approach using a new dataset comprising all UNGA and UNSC resolutions from 1945-2018 (19,137 and 2,331 resolutions, respectively), which we scraped, converted to plain text using OCR, cleaned, and parsed. We then extract citations that refer to other resolutions to construct legislative networks, measure textual similarity across different documents, and develop a supervised classifier to label each resolution with a topic area to assess leads and lags in agenda-setting in the two chambers, triangulating the output of these different text-as-data approaches.

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