Date of Award

Spring 5-2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International studies

Committee Director

Regina C. Karp

Committee Member

Francis Adams

Committee Member

Steve Yetiv

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.I45 C68 2004


Can the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) be an effective leader when the member states are not obliged to adhere to his priorities? Despite important limitations, the UNSG can influence the manner in which the organization's security agenda is prioritized and executed. Using both constitutional prerogatives as well as attributes of personal influence, the UNSG can make a meaningful impact on the way the United Nations (UN) executes its mission to maintain international peace and security. While the UNSG's constitutional authority establishes the foundation for his relationship with the member states, the extent to which the UNSG plays an important role in peace and security depends decisively on his ability to build a credible foundation of personal political influence. How does the UNSG gain and keep an influential relationship with the member states?

This study provides a systematic explanation for how the UNSG builds credibility and influence with the member states, and why the personal attributes of the individual UNSG are decisive in determining the extent of his influence over the UN security agenda. Accordingly, the study proceeds in the following manner. Chapter one establishes the methodology to which the study adheres, clarifying important definitions, establishing the meaning of key terms and their meaning in relation to the UNSG, as well the measures by which we can evaluate the effectiveness of the UNSG's influence. Chapters two and three define the sources of the UNSG's power: his constitutional authority and his personal influence. Dag Hammarskjold, Javier Perez de Cuellar, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali serve as subjects of the study, demonstrating the impact of the UNSG's political power through his charter given responsibilities and his personal influence.


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