Sustainable Development

Developing Countries’ Representation in International Organisations

Target 10.6 of the Sustainable Development Goals seeks to bolster the representation and influence of developing countries within global economic and financial institutions. This is gauged by the proportion of membership and voting rights these nations hold across various international organisations.

The latest data presents a mixed picture of current progress. For organizations such as the United Nations that operate on a “one member, one vote” principle, the share of voting rights aligns with the membership ratio. Consequently, in bodies like the UN General Assembly, the proportion of voting rights for developing countries parallels their membership share.

However, in other institutions where voting systems differ, disparities often exist between membership quotas and voting power. In the International Monetary Fund (IMF), developing countries make up about 75% of the members but hold 37% of the voting rights, according to 2022 UN data. Similar discrepancies are observed in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Still, some progress has been made over the past two decades. In 2000, the voting share of developing countries in the IMF stood at 31.3%, and has thus increased by almost 6 percentage points.

Note that there is no established convention for the designation of “developed” and “developing” countries or areas in the United Nations system. The data presented follows the historical classification of “developed regions” and “developing regions” as per the UN SDG Global Database.

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