Research Interests

UN Human Rights Council



Network Analysis


But I Thought We Were Friends?: Challenging Regional and Ideological Voting Blocs in the United Nations Human Rights Council using Network Analysis

Although the UN Commission on Human Rights made significant contributions to international human rights through its 60-year existence, by the end, it had become delegitimized. Critics claim that voting blocs were a primary cause. After over 10 years of work, the Commission’s successor, the Human Rights Council is facing similar critiques. However, outside of a few largely theoretical studies, there has been no systematic analysis of actual voting blocs at the Council. Instead, stakeholders have relied on prior beliefs about blocs and alliances. This paper seeks to address this shortcoming. Our approach empirically examines the variously identified blocs in relation to the placement of states based on clustering algorithms using network analysis. Our goal is to move away from ideological or historical narratives and move towards defining voting blocs based purely in Member State practice. Using voting data from 2006, the beginning of the Council, through 2017 we create a co-link network map of the shared votes across agenda items to empirically establish voting blocs based on behavior. This allows for a better understanding of clustering among states than previous works have allowed; preliminary findings suggest that relationships between states do not consistently align with the blocs described by scholars analyzing the work of the Council based on ideology or region.

Tweeting in Echo Chambers? Analyzing Discourse Between American Jewish Interest Groups

Recent research of interest groups’ use of Twitter focuses on its use for intra-group member mobilization. Little has been said so far about social media’s effects on the discourse within an issue community. Do interest groups that are part of a larger community, but whose positions divert from each other, use Twitter to talk to each other? Do they challenge each other’s views, attempt to build bridges, and form coalitions? Or do organizations tweet in order to reinforce existing views, while ignoring alternative perspectives?

Our research explores whether groups within a defined issue community - American Jewish organizations advocating on the issue of U.S.-Israel relations - use Twitter and its communication tools for dialog with each other, or whether their Twitter networks represent echo chambers. We find that the use of Twitter is more complex than the black-and-white narrative of echo chamber vs. public sphere suggests. Studies of Twitter use by organizations need to recognize that different forms of communicating on Twitter (tweets, retweets, replies, and mentions) serve different purposes. In the community we analyze groups interact with both supporters and detractors, using different tools - but on balance the results of our analysis support the echo chamber representation.

#LGBTQ Transnational Advocacy: How Linkages on Twitter Compare to the LGBTQ Hyperlink Network

How does the LGBTQ community mobilize across national boundaries using social media? Many scholars have written about the importance of transnational activism to policy diffusion (Ayoub, DeVries-Jordan, Kollman, to name just a few). As social media and digital space receive increasing attention, the role of Web 2.0 mechanisms such as Twitter as well as Web 1.0 such as websites in LGBTQ activism should receive similar attention. This talk would focus on comparing which LGBTQ organizations “talk” to each other using social media and who defers to whom via linkages on their official websites.

I use the International Lesbian and Gay Association member organization page to build a database of organizations with active websites. From this more narrow list, I gleaned twitter handles from all websites in which a twitter handle was made available to users. Using Issuecrawler, an online-based web scraping tool, I examine the linkages between these organizations as well as additional websites that appear in the crawl based on these organizations as seeds. Organizations link to other websites they believe are of interest and useful to their own users. Increasingly organizations limit linkages outside the organization as a way to maximize internal clicks, thus external links on contemporary websites reflect either prominence or a more antiquated website format in the case of less professionalized organizations.