Pakistan’s ascension to the UN Security Council: Cha-Ching!
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Pakistan’s ascension to the UN Security Council: Cha-Ching!

Just a quick post, because I’m super busy and have a ton on my plate.

We’ve just learned that Pakistan has won one of the ten non-permanent seats on the Security Council, by a grand total of one vote.

Whatever else this may imply, the literature in the Political Economy world is quite clear that this sort of thing is good for getting more money from the international community. And lord knows, Pakistan is very eager to get more money from the international community.

First, a widely cited paper by Kuziemko and Werker, on what Security Council membership does insofar as getting money from the U.S. is concerned:

Ten of the 15 seats on the U.N. Security Council are held by rotating members serving two-year terms. We find that a country’s U.S. aid increases by 59 percent and its U.N. aid by 8 percent when it rotates onto the council. This effect increases during years in which key diplomatic events take place (when members’ votes should be especially valuable), and the timing of the effect closely tracks a country’s election to, and exit from, the council.

Then, a paper by Dreher, Sturm, and Vreeland on what Security Council membership does insofar as getting favorable treatment from the IMF is concerned:

We investigate whether temporary members of the UN Security Council receive favorable treatment from the IMF, using panel data for 191 countries over the period 1951 to 2004. Our results indicate a robust positive relationship between temporary UN Security Council membership and participation in IMF programs, even after accounting for economic and political factors, as well as regional and country effects, and duration dependence. There is also evidence that UNSC membership reduces the number of conditions included in IMF programs. The size of the loan, however, is not affected by UNSC membership.

Then, a paper by the same authors as the IMF paper on what Security Council membership does insofar as getting favorable treatment from the World Bank is concerned:

We investigate whether elected members of the UN Security Council receive favorable treatment from the World Bank, using panel data for 157 countries over the period 1970–2004. Our results indicate a robust positive relationship between temporary UN Security Council membership and the number of World Bank projects a country receives, even after accounting for economic and political factors, as well as regional, country and year effects. The size of World Bank loans, however, is not affected by UN Security Council membership.

Can you say “Cha-ching”?

Obviously, this makes complete sense. Organizations like the IMF and World Bank are controlled by powerful countries, the same countries who happen to be permanent members of the Security Council. In order to buy votes in the Security Council from the non-permanent members, it makes perfect sense for the permanent members to exercise their influence in other forums to grease the wheels a little bit.

Limiting ourselves to the Pakistani context, this is obviously a boon for the PPP government. If the predictions of researchers in this area get borne out (they may not, given idiosyncratic factors relating to Pakistan-US relations at present), more money — and fewer stringent conditions from the IMF, at a time when push is coming to shove on that front — from abroad means more patronage and promises domestically. Not a bad deal, eh, especially with elections only a year and a bit away.

Of course, the downside is that this may put into brighter spotlight Pakistani ambassador to the UN, Mr. Hussain Haroon, a man who I can’t stand, mainly because of his Eton-meets-Sindh-Club accent (and the bow ties). Just hear him speak here and decide for yourself whether this man is capable of representing Pakistan on the world stage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WVcaXWSmcs&feature=fvst

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this Security Council thing matters that much. What is interesting and noteworthy about the whole thing is that India evidently voted for Pakistan, which is a really good sign and another small-yet-significant step in this peace process we have underway. Let’s see what happens. (Update: Via Twitter user @hushamahmed, I have learned that Pakistan actually supported India’s bid for the same spot last year, in which case this looks like a nice tit-for-tat gesture. Either way, it’s good for those of us wishing for warmer relations in South Asia, but it’s important to get the facts right.)

On a completely unrelated note, this was a hilarious story.