United Nations Institutional Discourse in the 65th General Debate
Hamilton, Heidi E
This thesis researches the United Nations institutional discourse in the 65th UN General Debate: how the members of the UN talk in and about the UN, and how such discourse in turn collectively reproduce what the UN is and/or should be. The primary data used for the study are the political speeches delivered by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the 65th session of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss, as well as the heads of states and governments of UN Member States, at the 65th General Debate during 23-30 September 2010. The study uses an integrated theoretical and methodological approach, informed by the scholars of the ethnography of speaking, literary and social theories, cognitive psychology, and critical discourse analysis. Political speeches here are understood as both the means and the outcome of socialization among state leaders and the UN officials, in their practice of membership to the “family of nations.” Through their contextual and textual analyses, the study demonstrates how some of the most representational political speeches of today’s international relations — while often arguing contested agenda — together shape the institutional reality of the UN in which they take place. In conclusion, the study argues that a critical approach to interpret political speeches will benefit the public audience in better understanding the UN as an institution and in strengthening and refining their “voice” as members of the international community.
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