The UN actually does prevent war, according to study of General Assembly votes

war
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The United Nations has been effective at suppressing conflict throughout its history, according to an analysis of more than 65 years of voting records conducted by Dartmouth College and The Ohio State University. The study presents evidence that the U.N. acts more than just a bystander on world events, and that it provides a forum where diplomacy reduces the chance of war.

In addition to analyzing the U.N.'s effectiveness at preventing war, the research also uses to assess the organization's impact on the spread of democracy and the building of defensive alliances.

The study appears in the journal Physica A.

"Our analysis provides evidence that the U.N. is more than just a witness of changing policy preferences," said Scott Pauls, chair of the Department of Mathematics at Dartmouth College. "The world body impacts future decisions, particularly by suppressing conflict."

The review of 5,143 U.N. General Assembly voting records from 1946 through 2011, found that the process of nations working together over time builds trust and facilitates fast, transparent communication that raises the chance of resolving crises peacefully.

"There is more nuance in voting records than was previously thought," said Skyler Cranmer, professor of political science at The Ohio State University. "The evidence demonstrates that the U.N. is more effective at achieving its mandate of avoiding wars than many experts think."

The research assesses the priorities that shape state actions as opposed to treating voting records as a reflection of those priorities. Up until now, existing research on the U.N. mostly considered voting patterns descriptively or addressed the impact of factors like foreign aid contributions on member voting.

From the voting records, researchers identified historic voting alliances - labelled as "affinity communities" - consisting of long-term macroclusters and short-term microclusters that provide the basis for coalition building and cooperation.

Macroclusters named in the research are the more enduring U.N. voting alliances. One macrocluster identified is comprised of the U.N.'s Western European and Others Group as well as Russia, Japan, China and some Eastern European countries. The second, much larger group comprises the balance of U.N. members.

According to the study, there have been 15 times in the U.N.'s history when the two macroclusters have merged into a voting community including all but a few outlier states. In most of these instances, the United States and a small number of other countries formed a group separated from the rest of the world as a result of divisive votes on issues like the Middle East and human rights.

Microclusters are more volatile voting alliances that form and dissolve in response to faster moving political dynamics. The high level of voting agreement within microclusters translates into the largest degree of conflict suppression.

"While the U.N. obviously does not prevent all armed conflict, the affinity communities reduce the probability of conflict," said Pauls. "It is through this mechanism of intensified diplomatic interaction that the U.N. has historically been able to better achieve its primary goal of maintaining international peace and security."

Additional results from the research include:

- affinity communities are reflective of transitions from autocracy to democracy, but do not play a significant role in the spread of democracy;

- affinity communities correspond to an increased possibility of defensive cooperation, but the research does not demonstrate that voting alliances translate to defensive alliances;

- the research confirms a policy divide between developed and less developed countries that is occasionally broken occasionally when the rest of the world stands against the United States.


Explore further

War less likely between nations that are 'friends of friends': study

Provided by Dartmouth College
Citation: The UN actually does prevent war, according to study of General Assembly votes (2017, July 18) retrieved 25 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-07-war-votes.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
1157 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jul 18, 2017
Whether or not the UN has actually prevented wars is speculation at best. What isn't speculative is that the UN is a haven for unaccountable, corrupt, incompetent politicians and bureaucrats.

Jul 18, 2017
Wars are ultimately caused by overpopulation and the competition over resources. The UN can perhaps postpone them, or assist in arranging for them to happen at the proper time and place.

Jul 18, 2017
Wars are ultimately caused by overpopulation and the competition over resources.


Overpopulation is a myth, and humanity has fought wars for as long as humans have existed, long before overpopulation was a concept. Wars are fought out of greed and covetousness, lust for power and control.

Jul 19, 2017
Wars are ultimately caused by overpopulation and the competition over resources.


That is in direct contradiction of history. The highest intensity of warfare in medieval Europe took place in the two centuries *after* the peak of population just before the outbreak of the plague around 1348. This period is one of comparatively abundant resources and lower population density than the preceding period, which saw less warfare.

Jul 19, 2017
Wars are ultimately caused by overpopulation and the competition over resources.

Wars have nothing to do with overpopulation. If you look at how many people are actually killed in wars the percentage of the population is quite low (even for such massive conflicts as WWII... though I would not take any bets on the results for WWIII).

Jul 19, 2017
Wars are all caused by overpopulation. Actual battlefield casualties are minor compared to reduced growth caused by forced displacement, destruction of resources, disruption of stable families, etc.

Fewer births, children and the elderly starve, pops are reduced. Mass civilian casualties in firestorms during ww2 targeted babymakers. Women.

And more significantly the wars destroyed the religionist cultures which were driving overgrowth to begin with, allowing postwar institution of worldwide family planning efforts and subsequent industrial-scale abortion. One BILLION since roe v wade. Many western cultures have achieved zero growth as a result.

Women finally had the 'freedom to choose' to do something with their lives other than making babies.

Planned war was finally producing substantive results and the promise of an end to war altogether.

Modern wars can be seen as anti-religion wars. See the French revolution, holodomor, the opium wars, etc.

Jul 19, 2017
Overpopulation is a myth, and humanity has fought wars for as long as humans have existed, long before overpopulation was a concept
'Concept'. Overpopulation has plagued humanity ever since we became able to hunt the animals which were keeping our numbers in check.

Humanity congealed into tribes. As tribes grew they always came into conflict over resources. Those tribes with a stronger tribal dynamic - internal altruism coupled with external animosity - would consistently prevail. The enemy males would all be killed or enslaved and the females incorporated.

This dynamic caused our brains to grow. It is what made us human. And it continues today. Over 1M German women raped by Russian soldiers post-ww2. Joshua was only doing gods work by doing exactly the same thing yes?

'By Islamic propagation or by the gun' say Islamist usurpers. Their holy mission is also to outgrow and overwhelm.

This has always made war inevitable and it means we are not yet done fighting.

Jul 19, 2017
period is one of comparatively abundant resources and lower population density than the preceding period, which saw less warfare
Fiefdoms were not abundant in resources. Serfs were forced to subsist on whatever they could produce on their little plots of land, minus the amount they were obliged to give to the king.

But you aren't going to agree with my explanation of middle age conflict. All dynastic rulers were related and all could trace their lineage back to Charlemagne. This was a crime family in control of an entire continent. They staged wars to manage their pops, not unlike the Greek city states did at the direction of Delphi.

But the invasion of the Americas had been planned for centuries and these euro wars can also be seen as the development and field testing of tactics and technologies, including gunpowder, to enable euros to quickly and decisively defeat much larger precolumbian armies.

Their gold and drugs posed a critical threat to euro economies.

Jul 19, 2017
If the European invaders had to have actually fight the Americans, Africans and Pacific Islanders? The European technology was not advanced enough to accomplish military domination.

That was proven by pre-Shogunate Japan, Korea and Ming China. Who not only adopted the European weaponry but made definite improvements. Not only technically but in superior combat tactics. They failed, when having achieved success, the new rulers suppressed all industrialization to prevent in turn, anyone overthrowing them!

The Aztecs and Incas were brought down by waves of virulent plagues that brought their peoples to the edge of extinction. As their clean habits left them helpless before the filthy European savages.

China went down, not only because of stupid internal repression. But lost generations to the Europeans and Yankees rapacious trade in opium.

Hawaiian saying: "The missionaries came to do us good...And they wound up doing very, very well for themselves!"

Jul 20, 2017
That was proven by pre-Shogunate Japan, Korea and Ming China. Who not only adopted the European weaponry but made definite improvements
What are you talking about? The chinese invented gunpowder, but gave it up probably because they didnt need it to wage staged internal demographic wars. Euros got the tech from the mongols.
The Aztecs and Incas were brought down by waves of virulent plagues that brought their peoples to the edge of extinction. As their clean habits left them helpless before the filthy European savages
Uh no, biowarfare is an ancient art, used throughout the centuries by many. Mongols themselves used plague in the crimea.

"Not only did the European settlers take away land and property, they also took away the women and, as much as possible, they exterminated the men."
cont>

Jul 20, 2017
An old adage - you cant conquer without boots on the ground. Firearms, cannon, horses, and wardogs allowed conquistadors to secure and hold land, protect settlements and trade routes, and systematically destroy all vestiges of precolumbian cultures. Of the 10k mayan books originally found for instance, only 3 remain.

And also spread euro disease by force throughout the new world.
China went down, not only because of stupid internal repression. But lost generations to the Europeans and Yankees rapacious trade in opium
Chinese leaders were as aware of the dangers of chronic overpopulation as any other. They had staged ruinous internal wars for centuries. They built huge public works projects like the mesoamericans and the egyptians, to reduce growth.

They all had a common enemy; the people they ruled, who would always blame them when their children began to starve.

Chinese emperors welcomed british opium as another way to keep people from reproducing.

Jul 21, 2017
Fiefdoms were not abundant in resources. Serfs were forced to subsist on whatever they could produce on their little plots of land, minus the amount they were obliged to give to the king.

But you aren't going to agree with my explanation of middle age conflict. All dynastic rulers were related and all could trace their lineage back to Charlemagne. This was a crime family in control of an entire continent.


Can you read? I said "RELATIVELY abundant". As in: more abundant in the period with most armed conflict than in the preceding periods with less armed conflict. That is simple historical FACT.

Serfdom had disappeared in western Europe by 1300 and hadn't even reached eastern Europe until the 15th century. "The king" had no power throughout most of European history - local lords did.

"All dynastic rulers" weren't related - that was somewhat true in the 18th century, not in the middle ages. You clearly know little about history, so please refrain from commenting on it.

Jul 21, 2017
That is simple historical FACT.
-and also irrelevant.
not in the middle ages
"all European royal families can trace their descent from Charlemagne"

"Charlemagne is still politically relevant today. He is often called the "founder of Europe," and in France and Germany he is celebrated as an iconic figure. The royal families of Europe claimed descendance from him until the 20th century, and the Empire he created in central Europe lasted until 1806."

-Use your right button for source and context. Rulers were often assigned from distant realms and sometimes didnt speak the language of their subjects, as with this mess:
https://en.wikipe...rg_Spain
You clearly know little about history
-and you thought the chinese got gunpowder tech from euros ahaahaaa

Jul 21, 2017
"The king" had no power throughout most of European history - local lords did
"Duke Albert's son, who was also named Albert, was elected King of Sweden the following year, and the family would rule until 1389. The historians call this era "a decentralized plunder economy" with extremely high taxes (as well as just outright theft of peasant property) being needed to support huge military expenses." -etc
Serfdom had disappeared in western Europe by 1300
"Between the 1350s and the 1390s, uprisings took place in England, Flanders, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. After an English revolt in 1381, Richard II promised to abolish serfdom. Though he later failed to keep his word, serfdom nonetheless died out in the next century."

-I suspect your ignorance is the result of typical brainwashing during formative years by oppressive dynastic rulers... but your reluctance to fact-check is just laziness.

Jul 21, 2017
-and you thought the chinese got gunpowder tech from euros ahaahaaa
Sorry I see this was a rrwillis comment. I get all you dweebs confused.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more