Groups and Voting Blocs in Term Paper

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Scholarship notes that these five groups are critical in managing the electoral politics of the U.N., and in the manner resolutions are adopted by group. Complications arise, for instance, because the Arab world is split between Africa and Asia, and the former Soviet Republics are split between Asia and Eastern Europe, which also includes Russia. [12: Ibid.]

The importance of understanding these groupings is that they play a strategic role in controlling issues surrounding leadership, membership, responsibilities, and structure. The success or failure of a number of campaigns and issues follows the ability to find consensus with the groups, and the individual group's ability to exercise negotiation techniques to sway other blocs. Ironically, analysis of voting records over the past few decades show that despite the importance of electoral groups, 10% of written commitments between groups and 20% of oral commitments are discounted based on misleading information or intention. [13: Ibid., 67.]

Common Interest Groups in the United Nations

Just as in most local and regional political arenas, many states band together based on shared interests and outcomes to form specific, and fluid, voting blocs in the U.N. This type of group is quite different than the electoral organization, since the motive is not to find equality in representation, but instead to adopt policies that will benefit the member states. The fluidity of these groups comes with their function: they can be caucusing, regional, or special interest oriented. [14: Ibid.]

These groups may differ from each other in very significant ways. The caucusing groups can be regionally oriented, but they may not. They are defined by the use of procedure and organizational structures to effect change. Regional groups lack this formality of structure, but share geographic commonality, for example, Central Africa or SE Asia. Common Interest groups have neither structure nor geographic commonality, but instead, share common interest; treaties, resource allocation, educational funding, etc. Too, within each of these groups, there may be considerable variation. A nation may side with another nation on inoculation policy, for example, but may differ regionally on economic or political issues. [15: Ibid., 68-9.]

In the current U.N. climate, most discussions surrounding these types of groups focus on two distinct options: The Group of 77 (133 members) and the Non-Aligned Movement (112 members). There is an overlap between these blocs since most are comprised of the developing world countries. The G77 is larger, but tends toward a narrower focus, preferring to deal more with economic development. The NAM movement is smaller and more diverse in membership, and focuses on foreign policy issues that remain separate and independent from the Superpowers. [16: Ibid., 69.]

Additionally, more often than not, the G77 and NAM work to coordinate their policies so that the sheer bulk of the voting bloc can carry certain initiatives. After so many decades of alignment, many of the groups regularly participate in committees and many delegates who wish to see certain initiatives pass or receive attention will first try to enlist the support of members of these groups. It may be likened to a powerful committee with different members, lobbying certain members has more political advantage than others. [17: Ibid., 70-1.]

Negotiating Groups in the United Nations

Negotiating groups operate off the principle of trying to use group behavior and communication techniques to resolve issues that are highly volatile or contentious. Electrical groups focus on taking a large universe of interests and narrowing it down to more manageable issues. Negotiating groups have become more powerful over the years in that they operate at a more ad hoc level so they can achieve the best possible outcomes for the largest number of members -- sort of a utilitarian approach to U.N. politics. Negotiation groups, however, differ from other types of groups in that they do not band together necessarily to focus on a shared desire to elect a group or person, nor to forge common interests based on needs or ideals. Instead, the negotiation groups are also known as "contact" or "working" groups in that their purpose is to find ways to build bridges of agreement across boundaries. Interestingly, most negotiating groups do not include the Superpowers, but various developing and developed nations with a strict eye towards diplomatic relationship building. [18: Ibid., 74-5.]

That being said, it is essential that membership in the negotiating group consist of at least some members of the common interest group. The negotiating group must also attempt to reflect the overall philosophy and attitudes of the caucusing group they represent, which in many cases is quite difficult. There is no set rule on the makeup of these groups, but one scholar noted that negotiating groups must have "wide political acceptability, be well informed, enjoy the confidence of countries directly involved in the dispute, be strongly supported by its national government, and in some cases represent…

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