Presentation Title

Tracking Leadership of UN Specialized Organizations: The Rise of China

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

China, United Nations, specialized organizations, multilateralism, US foreign policy, soft power, global influence

Department

International Studies and Languages

Major

International Studies, Emphasis Political Science

Abstract

The U.S. foreign policy apparatus has been increasingly concerned with the rise of Chinese influence in multilateral institutions over the past decade. The height of alarmism was reached over the summer of 2020 when Chinese officials held directorship positions of four of fifteen United Nations specialized organizations and were poised to earn a fifth. To test this hypothesis, our research tracks the nationality of leadership of all fifteen of the UN specialized organizations over time to examine whether this widely perceived Chinese ascendance is supported by the historical trends in leadership since the founding of the UN post-World War II. Our analysis confirms these anecdotal reports and finds that U.S. leadership of UN agencies has declined in recent years while China’s leadership is increasing rapidly. We offer insight into the scope of influence that states enjoy with increased leadership in multilateral specialized organizations and possible future effects of a China-dominated multilateral sphere.

Keywords: China, United Nations, specialized organizations, multilateralism, U.S. foreign policy, soft power, global influence

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Felicity Vabulas

Funding Source or Research Program

Not Identified

Presentation Session

Session C

Start Date

23-4-2021 3:30 PM

End Date

23-4-2021 3:45 PM

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Apr 23rd, 3:30 PM Apr 23rd, 3:45 PM

Tracking Leadership of UN Specialized Organizations: The Rise of China

The U.S. foreign policy apparatus has been increasingly concerned with the rise of Chinese influence in multilateral institutions over the past decade. The height of alarmism was reached over the summer of 2020 when Chinese officials held directorship positions of four of fifteen United Nations specialized organizations and were poised to earn a fifth. To test this hypothesis, our research tracks the nationality of leadership of all fifteen of the UN specialized organizations over time to examine whether this widely perceived Chinese ascendance is supported by the historical trends in leadership since the founding of the UN post-World War II. Our analysis confirms these anecdotal reports and finds that U.S. leadership of UN agencies has declined in recent years while China’s leadership is increasing rapidly. We offer insight into the scope of influence that states enjoy with increased leadership in multilateral specialized organizations and possible future effects of a China-dominated multilateral sphere.

Keywords: China, United Nations, specialized organizations, multilateralism, U.S. foreign policy, soft power, global influence