US 'buys' Security Council votes

Researchers say that stakes are higher at controversial votes at the UNSC By IslamOnline.net & Newspapers


CAIRO (17 December 2006) - THE US is "buying" votes of developing countries that have a rotating seat in the UN Security Council under the guise of aid, Britain's The Observer reported on Sunday, December 17, citing a new detailed analysis based on data collected over the past 50 years by two American professors.

With ten of the 15 seats on the Security Council filled for two years at a time by rotation, developing countries with a seat get 59 per cent more cash from the US aid budget, Harvard University's Ilyana Kuziemko and Eric Werker concluded.

The research found that when such countries have a Security Council seat they get an average of more than 8m extra in foreign aid from the US.

"I don't think it's surprising this goes on; but I wonder whether countries being aware that it goes on might have some salutary effect," Kuziemko said.

According to the research, countries with a Security Council seat also receive an average of 500m extra from the UN itself through its children's fund, UNICEF, over which the US has greater leverage.

The stakes are higher for such countries at controversial votes as the US "aid" jumps by some 170 per cent, while the UN spends an extra 4m.

A Step Backwards

"Aid should go to the people who need it, not as a political sweetener," said Green.

International charities and anti-poverty campaigners lashed out at the American backhanded policy.

"Aid should go to the people who need it, not as a political sweetener," Duncan Green of Oxfam told the British newspaper.

"In recent years most rich countries have been making progress on this, but showering bribes on developing countries just because they sit on the UN Security Council is clearly a step backwards."

According to World Bank estimates, one third of deaths - some 18 million people a year or 50,000 per day - are due to poverty-related causes.

That's 270 million people since 1990, mostly women and children, roughly equal to the population of the US.

Every year nearly 11 million children die before their fifth birthday due to absolute poverty and 800 million people go to bed hungry every day.

The research has raised fears about the fate of aid pledged by the world's industrialized countries at last year's G8 summit.

The leaders of the world's eight industrialized countries hammered out an historic deal to immediately write off 40 billions of dollars owed by the world's poorest countries to multilateral lenders.

David Woodward, of the New Economics Foundation, sounded pessimistic about much-needed UN reforms due to the influence wielded by the richest countries.

"As long as one country wields such influence, there will always have a degree of control over what goes on, and they will be likely to abuse that," he told the British paper.

"The biggest obstacle, in both the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank, as well as the UN, is that the countries that now have power can use that power to block reform - and they do."




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