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How Much Is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nations

Harvard University

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. Finally, the U.N. results appear to be driven by UNICEF, an organization over which the United States has historically exerted great control.