The Multilateralist

Do more coups occur during the UN meetings?

As this week’s United Nations festivities have played out, it occurred to me that in trekking to New York more than a few of the assembled heads of state have left behind them volatile, and potentially violent, domestic environments. Wouldn’t the UN meetings be a convenient time for discontented domestic groups to conspire–and perhaps launch ...

As this week’s United Nations festivities have played out, it occurred to me that in trekking to New York more than a few of the assembled heads of state have left behind them volatile, and potentially violent, domestic environments. Wouldn’t the UN meetings be a convenient time for discontented domestic groups to conspire–and perhaps launch coups?  At the suggestion of Jay Ulfelder, I contacted Monty Marshall, director of the Center for Systemic Peace, which has assembled a database on coup attempts. Here’s his response:

While coups often take place when a leader is out of the country, there is no evidence that coups that place at any different rate during the opening session of the UN General Assembly, which takes place in late September each year. Actually, the number of coups taking place in September, since 1946, is slightly below the monthly average (63, with an average of 67.6). January (76), March (84), October (83), and November (80) are the most popular months for coups; February is the least popular (53). The month with the greatest number of successful coups is November (29); all other months have between 14 (Feb) and 21 (Sept) successful coups. There is no eveidence that the latter half of September, when world leaders are attending the opening of the UN General Assembly, is any different than the first half of the month.

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