Public Choice

, Volume 158, Issue 1–2, pp 51–83 | Cite as

The determinants of election to the United Nations Security Council

  • Axel Dreher
  • Matthew Gould
  • Matthew D. Rablen
  • James Raymond Vreeland


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is the foremost international body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. Members vote on issues of global importance and consequently receive perks—election to the UNSC predicts, for instance, World Bank and IMF loans. But who gets elected to the UNSC? Addressing this question empirically is not straightforward as it requires a model that allows for discrete choices at the regional and international levels; the former nominates candidates while the latter ratifies them. Using an original multiple discrete choice model to analyze a dataset of 180 elections from 1970 to 2005, we find that UNSC election appears to derive from a compromise between the demands of populous countries to win election more frequently and a norm of giving each country its turn. We also find evidence that richer countries from the developing world win election more often, while involvement in warfare lowers election probability. By contrast, development aid does not predict election.


United Nations Security Council Turn-taking norm Elections 

JEL Classification

F53 F55 O19 



For comments, we thank three anonymous reviewers and the editors of this journal, Franz Buscha, Eunbin Chung, Simon Hug, Diego Dewar, participants of the Political Economy of International Organizations VI conference at the Universities of Mannheim and Heidelberg; and seminar participants at the Georgetown University International Theory and Research Seminar (GUITARS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Dreher
    • 1
  • Matthew Gould
    • 2
  • Matthew D. Rablen
    • 3
  • James Raymond Vreeland
    • 4
  1. 1.Heidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.University of WestminsterLondonUK
  3. 3.Brunel UniversityLondonUK
  4. 4.Georgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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