Rising Powers in International Institutions


The rise of non-Western powers, such as the BRICS or IBSA states, has entailed competing claims about how these powers act among each other and how they behave vis-à-vis the established powers. Do the rising powers form a counterhegemonic bloc to confront the “old” powers, creating potentially dangerous tension in international politics? Or do we observe an alignment of interests between old and new powers, suggesting accommodation and harmony? To examine rising power behavior systematically, this paper analyzes their voting behavior in the United Nations General Assembly (GA). We employ a spatial modeling technique (W-NOMINATE) to analyze more than 1,000 GA votes through which states reveal their policy preferences. Comparing the periods 1992-2001 and 2002-2011, our analysis yields three main findings: (1) The rising powers display increasing levels of voting cohesion, suggesting that they act as a bloc on the international stage. (2) The voting behavior of emerging and established powers reflects substantial disagreement across almost all issue areas in international politics. (3) These differences in the voting behavior of both groups remained remarkably stable over time – neither did the new powers become more confrontational towards the old powers, nor did they align with them.


Waxing and Waning in World Politics. Rising Power Behaviour in the UN General Assembly. GIGA Decentering Regional Power Conference, 14 December 2012, Hamburg (with Autumn Lockwood Payton)

With ‘frenemies’ like these: Rising power voting behavior in the UN General Assembly. Presented at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, 18 – 21 February 2015, New Orleans, LA (with Autumn Lockwood Payton)