The determinants of election to the United Nations Security Council

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-83
Number of pages33
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Elections
  • Security Council
  • Turn-taking norm
  • United Nations


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