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uni'wissen 1-2013_ENG

São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation off the western coast of Africa. It has a popula­ tion of only 167,000 and a total area hardly larger than the Baltic Sea island of Rügen. It pales into insignificance in comparison to the distant Peo­ ple’s Republic of China – a country with 1.34 billion citizens, more than Europe, North America, and Russia combined. All the same, the vote of São Tomé and Príncipe has exactly the same weight as that of China in the United Nations General Assembly. “In no other international organization has the principle of equality been implemented as successfully as in the General Assembly,” says Diana Panke, holder of the Chair of Gover­ nance in Multilevel Systems at the University of Freiburg. She has been studying in detail how the members of the policy­making organ in New York negotiate and vote for a good three years. While the member states of the United Nations may be equal in a strictly formal sense, they differ greatly with regard to their administration, finances, and the size of their staff – and thus also their relative political strength. Panke’s study is primarily a quantitative analy­ sis. In order to determine how the General Assembly develops, negotiates, and makes deci­ sions on political issues, the political scientist combed through scores of data on the resolu­ tions the organ worked on between 1999/2000 and 2009/2010. The databases contained infor­ mation on what resolutions were submitted and passed at what time and on how each member state contributed to the political decision­making process: Did the state play an active role in draft­ ing the resolution, did it participate in the nego­ tiations, or did it simply ignore it from the start? Panke focused her efforts on two questions in particular: How strongly do the material resources available to a member state impact its participa­ tion in the stages of a cycle of political decision­ making, and to what extent does political activity translate into influence? In addition, she also conducted more than 160 interviews with diplo­ mats in New York in order to have more than just statistics as a basis for her analysis. Finally, her research design also included six case studies whose purpose was to demonstrate by way of example how small, medium­sized, and large countries engage – or don’t engage – in the multi­ lateral interaction. Resources Are Crucial The most important finding of her study should hardly come as a surprise: Large countries tend to participate more actively than small countries because they have a lot more resources at their disposal. The differences are immense. There are countries that are so small that they don’t even have their own diplomatic mission in New York, such as the Republic of Kiribati in the cen­ tral Pacific. Others only send a single diplomat, like Somalia, Guinea­Bissau, and Nauru. These countries enter into negotiations with countries like the USA, whose delegation is over 100 diplo­ mats strong. The representatives of a large embassy can distribute duties and areas of responsibility among their ranks, they can follow positions that are in their national interests on a “Countries like Great Britain or France have budgets at their disposal that are thousands of times higher than those of microstates like Kiribati” 25