Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Thomas G. Weiss

Committee Members

Bruce Cronin

Peter Liberman

Subject Categories

International Relations


United Nations, Security Council, International Organizations


The conventional wisdom is that the international system in the Cold War was defined by the struggle between East and West. While this was certainly the case, voting patterns in the UN Security Council present a more nuanced picture. Counterintuitively, France, the United Kingdom and the United States—three of the five permanent members of the Security Council (the Permanent 3 or P3) and members of the NATO alliance—voted apart on Council resolutions far more frequently in the Cold War, when they faced the common threat of the Soviet Union, than in the post-Cold War era. This dissertation observes that they were frequently divided on issues related to colonialism and Israel/Palestine, among other matters. It argues that the voting differences among them largely had to do with the way the Council functioned, as negotiating processes were underdeveloped and assertive Council members from the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) often proposed draft resolutions which made bold political statements but had little chance of being adopted. As the Cold War ended, however, the permanent members—the P3, as well as Russia and China—gained a newfound appreciation for the potential of a Security Council unhindered by significant East-West tensions. They sought to consolidate their control of the Council’s work. In part because of the perception expressed by permanent and elected members alike that a unified Council is a more effective one, voting unanimity has been achieved on nearly 92 percent of adopted resolutions since 1992. The dissertation further maintains that the NAM has lost its unity and political clout in the post-Cold War, with its members (or for that matter, any other group of members in the Council) less likely to propose draft resolutions destined to be vetoed. At the same time, it posits that the elected members (the Elected 10 or E10), in spite of the differing views among them, at times play a constructive role in the Council’s work, including by building bridges among the permanent members when they are divided.