The United Nations and Agenda Setting
until further notice
Cheltenham : Edward Elgar
InZahariadis, N. (ed.), Handbook of Public Policy Agenda Setting, pp. 367-385
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Zahariadis, N. (ed.), Handbook of Public Policy Agenda Setting
SubjectInstitute for Management Research
As in every social context, international relations are subject to change. Policymakers are constantly confronted with new issues that vie for their attention and need to be tackled. Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations (UN) has been the world forum in which emerging global issues are discussed and decided upon. For instance, environmental concerns emerged on the UN’s agenda in the 1960s after they were first taken up by local and national movements in Europe and the US. The Genocide Convention is another case of successful agenda setting. It dates back to the tireless work of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent, who amazingly had escaped the Nazi regime and was determined to contribute to the development of international law to prevent future mass atrocities. He was a change agent in the truest sense, known for wandering the floors of the UN building and approaching every diplomat that crossed his way. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, 11 years prior to Lemkin’s untimely death. Agenda setting is a crucial step in international policymaking. While not equivalent to decision-making, it is nevertheless equally relevant since it sets the stage for not only how an issue will be discussed but also who eventually will decide upon it. In this chapter, we focus on how International Relations (IR) has addressed agenda setting in general and how new issues become part of the UN’s agenda in particular.
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