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Civil servant attitudes toward the U.N. in Guatemala, Norway, and the United States

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2009

Robert E. Riggs
Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
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This research note reports the findings of a mail survey of higher level Guatemalan civil servants, soliciting their views on the United Nations. The survey was administered in the summer of 1979 for comparison with similar surveys of Norwegian and United States officials undertaken five years earlier, to determine whether experience with international organizations produces attitudes more favorable to international cooperation.

Research note
Copyright © The IO Foundation 1981

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Riggs, Robert E. and Mykletun, I. Jostein, Beyond Functionalism: Attitudes Toward International Organization in Norway and the United States (Oslo and Minneapolis: Universitetsforlaget and University of Minnesota Press, 1979)Google Scholar. The study found experience to be associated with positive affect along some attitudinal dimensions and negative on others. See also two subsequent reports on U.S. civil servants’ attitudes toward selected UN specialized agencies: Riggs, , “The Bank, the IMF, and the WHO: More Data on Functionalist Learning,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 24 (06 1980): 513–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Riggs, , “The FAO and the USDA: Implications for Functionalist Learning,” Western Political Quarterly 33 (09 1980): 314–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar. These studies were based on surveys of the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Agriculture, and the U. S. Public Health Service. The observed attitude to experience relationship did not differ significantly from that found in the Norway-United States study.

2 A number of other studies have also attempted to assess attitudinal change resulting from various kinds of UN participation. These include Alger, Chadwick F., “United Nations Participation as a Learning Experience,” Public Opinion Quarterly 27 (Fall 1963): 411–26;CrossRefGoogle ScholarAlger, , “Personal Contact in Intergovernmental Organizations,” in Kelman, Herbert C., ed., International Behavior: A Social-Psychological Analysis (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965), pp. 523–47Google Scholar; Galtung, Ingrid Eide, “The Status of the Technical Assistance Expert: A Study of U. N. Experts in Latin America,” Journal of Peace Research 3 (1966): 359–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mathiason, John R., “Old Boys, Alumni, and Consensus at ECLA Meetings,” in Merritt, Richard L., ed., Communication in International Politics (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972), pp. 387404Google Scholar; Siverson, Randolph M., “Role and Perception in International Crisis: The Cases of Israeli and Egyptian Decision Makers in National Capitals and in the United Nations,” International Organization 27 (Summer 1973): 329–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Volgy, Thomas J. and Quistgaard, Jon E., “Learning about the Value of Global Cooperation: Role-taking in the United Nations as a Predictor of World Mindedness,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 19 (06 1975): 349–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Riggs, Robert E., “One Small Step for Functionalism: UN Participation and Congressional Attitude Change,” International Organization 31 (Summer 1977): 515–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gareau, Frederick H., “Congressional Representatives to the UN General Assembly: ‘Corruption’ by Foreign Gentry,” Orbis 21 (Fall 1977): 701–24Google Scholar; Riggs, , “More on ‘Corruption’ by Foreign Gentry,” Orbis 22 (Fall 1978): 737–45Google Scholar; Ernst, Manfred, “Attitudes of Diplomats at the United Nations: The Effects of Organizational Participation on the Evaluation of the Organization,” International Organization 32 (Autumn 1978): 10371044CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Peck, Richard, “Socialization of Permanent Representatives in the United Nations: Some Evidence,” International Organization 33 (Summer 1979): 365–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Vincent, Jack E., “National Attributes as Predictors of Delegate Attitudes at the United Nations,” American Political Science Review 62 (09 1968), p. 930CrossRefGoogle Scholar. By factor analysis Vincent reduced forty-eight “national attributes” to eleven factors, which he correlated with responses to a questionnaire completed by sixty-eight delegates during 1965–1966. Level of development was the one factor that showed consistently significant correlation with delegate attitudes.

4 See Vincent, Jack E., “The Convergence of Voting and Attitude Patterns at the United Nations,” Journal of Politics 31 (11 1969): 953–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Vincent, , “Predicting Voting Patterns in the General Assembly,” American Political Science Review 65 (06 1971): 471–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Vincent, , “An Application of Attribute Theory to General Assembly Voting Patterns, and Some Implications,” International Organization 26 (Summer 1972): 551–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and related Vincent research cited therein.

5 Clark, John F., O'Leary, Michael K., and Wittkopf, Eugene R., “National Attributes Associated with Dimensions of Support for the United Nations,” International Organization 25 (Winter 1971): 125CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 Peck, “Socialization of Permanent Representatives,” pp. 374–75.

7 Ibid., pp. 373–74.

8 See Riggs and Mykletun, Beyond Functionalism, pp. 145–49, 157.

9 In 1978 Norway's contributions to all UN voluntary programs were exceeded only by those of the United States, United Kingdom; West Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. As a percentage of gross domestic product, Norway's total contribution was the highest. Contribution figures are found in Report of the Committee on Contributions, Official Records of the General Assembly, 34th Sess., Supp. No. 11, addendum, pp. 18–27.

10 For a report on the 1976 survey see works cited in note 1.

11 The reader should bear in mind that the various surveys are not wholly comparable. Let N be the total population of governmental units and n the subset of N whose responses are recorded. The Norway 1974 and U. S. 1974 ns were biased toward respondents with foreign relations experience. The U.S. 1976 n was selected randomly from the governmental units.

12 In the Norway and U. S. surveys the item called for channeling more foreign aid through the UN.

13 For Norway the relationship holds for all but item 8, increased UN authority. For Guatemala the principal exception is item 1 on the meeting attendance measure. The status of Belize could account for this response.

14 The United States was an avid UN supporter in the early years, but the mass influx of Third World countries, the reduced influence of the United States, and the changing character of the organization have taken their toll. The decline in U. S. esteem for the world organization is documented in Riggs, Robert E., “The United States and Diffusion of Power in the Security Council,” International Studies Quarterly 22 (12 1978): 513–44, especially pp. 514–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Guatemalan responses were correlated with age, education, and previous position, but no consistent, significant differences appeared. There were differences in response among the four Guatemalan government departments. Agriculture and Commerce had the highest levels of agreement on the first eight items, and the association of experience with favorable attitudes tended to be higher in Agriculture responses. The earlier studies had suggested that the organizational milieu does make a difference in attitudes toward international organization. The departmental subsamples are too small, however, to create much confidence in the significance of the apparent differences.