Who are We? The dynamic I-We continuum of state identification at the UNGA 

Legitimacy standards are established in multilateral institutional settings, wherein states manifest their state consciousness and represent themselves and their conduct “as states”. Building on IR theories of state identification processes, this research examines how states position themselves on the I-We continuum, namely how they fluctuate between their national and international identity, through political discourse. Using Longformer, a transformer-based model, this research evaluates semantic similarity between diverse textual information. Three types of texts are used: on the “We” end of the spectrum, the UN charter as the constant text symbolizing international identity; on the “I” end of the spectrum, states’ constitution(s) encapsulate national identity. We analyze in a given year the changing proximity between a state’s speech in the opening session of the UNGA (1970-2018; n= 8042) and both reference texts. Resulting in two alternative textual variables that represent dynamics in the tendencies of states to identify and alternate between individual and collective positions, thus demonstrating international trends of inclusion and exclusion over time.

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