In the name of democracy: UNSC reform discourse as dark side communication or governmentality

Winther, B. Z. (Lecturer), Lindegaard, L. B. (Lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


According to the unanimous international community, it is due time for a democracy-enhancing reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The reform debate is, however, imbued with discursive struggle (Fairclough, 1989). Whereas the majority discourse, invoked by The Group of Four G4, emphasises that a democratic reform must rely on increased permanent representation, the prominent minority discourse, invoked by Uniting for Consensus (UfC), emphasises that a democratic reform needs to reconsider the veto prerogative granted to permanent members. We understand this utilisation of the notion of ‘democracy’ and the non-neutrality of the competing reform discourses as an example of ‘dark side communication’, and we see Foucault’s work on governmentality (Foucault, 2007) as offering a lens through which to further conceptualise this insight. As Rose (Rose, 1999) points out, governing through governmental rationalities demands ongoing rationalisation in which governors ascribe to a certain form of truth (p. 27), and, to a large extent, this rationalisation work unfolds in discourse. Furthermore, Foucault’s work implies that governmentality, or conduct of conduct, is seen as co-constituted through resistance; through counter-conduct aimed to “struggle against the processes implemented for conducting others” (Foucault, 2007, p. 201). We focus on the minority discourse, namely the UfC-discourse, approaching it as a form of counter-conduct that simultaneously co-constitutes and challenges the conduct of conduct invoked by the majority discourse. We draw on various data such as meeting minutes, public statements, press releases and tweets. In a recent volume (McIlvenny, Zhukova Klausen, & Lindegaard, 2016), it is explored how discourse analysis can be brought into productive interplay with studies of governmentality, and taking inspiration from this, we explore the strategic ambiguities and evasive strategies (Friedman, 2017) through which UfC’s reform proposal and a particular notion of ‘democracy’ are co-constituted as counter-conduct challenging the dominating governmentality.
Period15 Aug 2019
Event typeConference
LocationAAlborg, Denmark
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Dark side of Communication
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Global Governance
  • Interntional Relation
  • United Nat
  • United Nations Security Council