Delegating the Power to Govern Security Affairs: The Composition of the UN Security Council

37 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2010 Last revised: 13 Sep 2010

Date Written: 2010


This paper examines the composition of the UN Security Council with two newly collected data sets on Council membership, one is on the elected members and the other on the nominated members. Using these data sets, I examine which countries are most likely to be nominated by the regional group and then be elected by the General Assembly. The primary interest of this paper is to analyze the effects of Members' policy preferences on the likelihood of gaining seats. Using ideal point estimates, I investigate whether elected members' policy preferences differ substantially from those of the permanent members and whether the elected members actually increase the heterogeneity in the Security Council. The regression results suggest that countries whose ideal points are closer to that of the United Sates are most likely to get elected among all UN Members, including the median voter. Despite the presence of relatively democratic procedures on electing non-permanent members, UN Members tend to elect pro-U.S. countries voluntarily so that the Council functions efficiently without being disturbed by countries with conflicting interests. Moreover, I find that countries which have a reputation for free-riding or transgressing are less likely to obtain seats on the Council. This result suggests that UN Member attempt to prevent the suboptimal provision of the public good by punishing members which fail to bear the burden or break important international norms.

Keywords: International Organizations, United Nations, Security Council

Suggested Citation

Iwanami, Yukari, Delegating the Power to Govern Security Affairs: The Composition of the UN Security Council (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Yukari Iwanami (Contact Author)

Osaka City University ( email )

3-3-138, Sugimoto
Osaka 558-8585

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