James Raymond Vreeland (Ph.D., New York University, 1999) is Professor of International Relations in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He holds a joint appointment in the Government Department. He conducts research in the field of international political economy, specializing in international institutions.
Earlier this month, students, faculty, and distinguished researchers filled the Mortara Center to hear former Walsh Exchange Moderator, James Vreeland, launch his book, The Political Economy of the United Nations Security Council. In his presentation, the Georgetown professor exposed the shadier, less publicized side of international institutions and advocated realist reforms.
Vreeland focuses on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a symbol of legitimacy within international law, which possesses the power to issue multi-lateral sanctions, international resolutions, and military intervention. The council is composed of fifteen countries, five of which remain indefinitely with absolute veto power– the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China. The other ten countries alternate, elected every two years by the UN General Assembly. The professor illuminated how these temporary members, often developing nations, become much more politically relevant during their terms. As these countries are often more concerned with the domestic status quo opposed to international politics, powerful global hegemons, both within and outside of the UNSC, frequently offer foreign aid in exchange for votes. Professor Vreeland finished by exploring potential reforms, discussing changes to the election process which would redistribute voting power to “accommodate rising powers” while maintaining international legitimacy.
Vreeland’s book not only epitomizes high-quality research but also faculty-student cooperation. The professor’s former student, Daniel Lim, partnered with Vreeland and co-authored the book’s case study on Japan and the Asian Development Bank. During the Q&A session, collegiate researchers, both graduate and undergraduate students, did not hesitate to ask questions. Vreeland explained his methodology, offered future research possibilities, and, above all, inspired a new generation to pursue research in international affairs.
As we in the Walsh Exchange Steering Committee begin to plan our conference this Spring, we wish to thank the Mortara Center for sponsoring our conference and Professor Vreeland for his role as moderator last year. We hope this cooperation will continue to flourish.