UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Supranational authority : the role of the United Nations secretariat in the expansion of the departments of peacekeeping operations and political affairs Almehairbi, Mohamed


Why do member states generously finance some departments within an International Organisation, while others are starved for resources? Why do funding allocations shift over time? What role do bureaucrats themselves play in processes that influence this variation? For the most part, for example, the UN regular budget varies only slightly from one biennium to the next, but occasionally, there are sudden increases in the resources of a particular department. This project seeks to explain why. This thesis asserts that the UN Secretariat, and the Secretary-General in particular, can strategically utilise their expertise-based and principle-based authority in order to persuade member states to provide more resources to particular departments. I study the UN budget process to illustrate the avenues available for influence by the Secretary-General and other bureaucrats. I explore two in-depth case studies, drawing on extensive primary documents and sixteen expert interviews, to examine the actions of the Secretariat in the years leading up to the changes in both departments. These two moments of dramatic change were the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in 2000/2001, and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) from 2005 to 2008. In both, the Secretariat was able to leverage its informal authority to increase its resources, but only when the arguments they put forward accorded both with their type of authority, and with the values held by the audience; this persuasion was also only possible when member state blocs were not entrenched in opposition to each other on a related issue. The Secretariat used three strategies to achieve this: i) agenda setting, ii) initiating and expanding operations, and iii) multiplying authority by creating like-minded expert panels.

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