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Lowest Common Denominator Norm Institutionalization: The Anti-coup Norm at the United Nations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Governance
Early online date19 Aug 2018
Accepted/In press11 May 2017
E-pub ahead of print19 Aug 2018
PublishedAug 2018


King's Authors


After the end of the Cold War, states and international organizations increasingly adopted a new “anti-coup norm.” However, this norm has evolved unevenly and has never been universally embraced or consistently enforced. In this article, I examine the uneven evolution of the anti-coup norm by tracing its fate within the United Nations system. I show how member states have sought to retain discretion in how they respond to individual coup cases and how, in response, UN officials within the Secretariat sought to pursue norm institutionalization by changing the UN’s internal rules and procedures for dealing with coup countries. In doing so, they pursued “lowest common denominator” norm institutionalizsation, which involves seeking to achieve the highest level of institutionalization possible even if it means aiming for a lower level of progress than norm promoters would ideally like. KEYWORDS: coups d’état, United Nations, norm enforcement

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