Introduction


UNSCdeb8 is a queryable database of all verbatim statements given by the representatives of permanent and non-permanent member states, during public meetings of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) between 2010 and 2017.

The database is searchable by queries based on the metadata classifiers attached to each statement, including the country that the speaker represents, the topic of the meeting and the date of the meeting. It is also possible to search for keywords or phrases used in statements.

The major advantage of UNSCdeb8 is its dynamic, queryable nature, as compared to the static, non-searchable archive of UNSC meeting records available from the online UN Documentary Library. The latter limits the user to downloading a single PDF containing all speeches made during a single UNSC meeting. UNSCdeb8 allows a user to design their own queries to search for the speeches of most interest to them within and across all UNSC meetings, 2010-17. UNSCdeb8 delivers all speeches matching the query in a results format that is easy to understand, review and navigate. A number of functions enable the user to export the assembled set of statements as .txt, .csv, or zip files, which can then be further analysed using other text-analysis tools or close reading. UNSCdeb8 was primarily designed to facilitate corpus-driven social science research into the UNSC, but it can also be used as resource for collating UNSC debates for investigation via other methodological approaches.

UNSCdeb8, therefore, represents both a flexible and easy to use tool to support existing research approaches to studying the UNSC, and a new method by which to investigate UNSC debates.

Please note that UNSCdeb8 only contains statements given by the official representatives of permanent and non-permanent Security Council members. It excludes statements by speakers, such as special rapporteurs and other invited speakers. Thus, UNSCdeb8 cannot be used to recreate full debates. For a more detailed description of UNSCdeb8, how it was built and how it can be operationalized to conduct research on the UNSC, please see:

Kohlenberg P.J., Godehardt N., Aris S., Sündermann F., Snetkov A. & Fall, J., Introducing UNSCdeb8 (beta): A Database for Corpus-Driven Research on the United Nations Security Council, SWP Working Paper Asia Division, 2019/No. 01, June 2019.

How to use UNSCdeb8


Search query tool

UNSCdeb8 is designed to enable a user to define search queries based on parameter selections, with all UNSC statements that meet these criteria returned in an easy to interpret results table.

There are 7 parameters with which to define a search:

Agenda: This is the agenda title given to a meeting by the UNSC. Agenda titles often follow the format “The situation in X”. Meetings can be searched by keywords in the agenda title (e.g. a search for “Afghanistan” will, amongst others, return all meetings with the agenda title “The situation in Afghanistan”. Please note that agenda titles are often very broad, such as “Non-proliferation” or “The situation in the Middle East”.

Nation: This allows the user to search for all statements by representatives of a particular nation (e.g. “Russia” or “France”). There are preset choices in a dropdown menu to avoid confusion with names (e.g. “Russia” or “Russian Federation”). The preset choices include an option to select “Permanent Members”, which is a search for statements by all 5 permanent members of the UNSC, and “Non-Permanent Members”, which is a search for statements by all non-permanent members of the UNSC.

Date: Statements can be restricted to those that were made within defined time periods. Two boxes allow the user to set the date from and to in a query. The date must be entered in the format DD.MM.YYYY.

Statement: This parameter allows the user to search for all statements using a particular keyword or phrase. This is an open field. S/PV no.: This is the UN’s classificatory systems for meeting records. The user can use this parameter to search for statements within particular range of meetings, if they enter the specific S/PV numbers in this field

Role of Speaker: This allows the user to search for statements by speakers in certain roles (i.e. President or Member). Name of Speaker: This allows the user to search for all statements made by a particular speaker (e.g. it is possible to compare the statements made by one representative of a nation against those of another speaker representing the same nation).

The search query function allows the user to combine as many of these parameter choices as they like. These parameter choices can be combined using either an AND or an OR selection. The former will deliver results that meet the criteria of both parameter selections. While the latter will return results that meet the criteria of at least one of the parameter selections. It is also possible to combine a number of queries within the same parameter category (e.g. searches for Nation = “Russia” AND “France”; Agenda = “Afghanistan” OR “Syria”; Statement = “Threat” AND “Global”)

Results Table

All search queries will generate a results table.

Each line in the results table represents a statement in a UNSC meeting that matches the parameter selections of the query. There are columns for each statement that detail the parameter classifications of that statement (minus the keyword search, as this is a free form text query). The hyperlinks in each line allow the statement to be reviewed easily by the user. By clicking on the “statement” column, the user can view the full statement matching the search query criteria in html format. By clicking on the “S/PV no” column, the user can view all available data pertaining to a meeting record, including the particular statement, in html format. The download option will deliver a .txt version of all statements the full meeting record.

Downloads

The Downloads function below the results table enables users to export the data in the results table into multiple formats for further analysis. Download all speech results (TXT) will deliver a .txt file, containing all of the full verbatim statements matching the search query. These pure speech .txt files are ideal for analysis using Corpus Linguistic tools.

Download all speech results (ZIP) will deliver a zip file, containing the full text of each statement in the results table in a separate file. Download all search results (CSV) will deliver a .csv file (convertible to Excel or Access) of all the statements in the results table, matched to their parameter classifications. These .csv files are ideal for further variable-based exploration in Excel or Access.