Is the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General (SG) an independent actor in conflict diplomacy, or are his political interventions influenced by the parochial interests of the UN Security Council (UNSC) permanent member states – the P5? Previous studies have suggested that the political independence of the UN is constrained whenever a conflict evokes the strong parochial interests of individual P5 states. Using a newly compiled dataset, this article presents the first large-N historical study on the SG’s conflict interventions. The study quantifies the interventions while distinguishing between interventions mandated by the UNSC, which have always been high-profile in nature, and nonmandated interventions, with key emphasis on high-profile nonmandated interventions. The study ascertains whether both types of intervention were inhibited by the parochial interests of individual P5 states or whether the nonmandated interventions were uninfluenced by P5 interests. The results reveal that while parochial P5 interests have a significant bearing on UNSC-mandated interventions, they do not influence nonmandated interventions. Crucially, UN Charter dictates generally exert a greater influence on nonmandated interventions than on UNSC-mandated interventions. These findings present a strong case for the formal autonomy of the UN Secretariat and contribute to the growing literature on the role of executive heads in international organization secretariats.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.