Established powers enjoy privileges in world politics coveted by emerging powers. These privileges vary in their level of institutionalization: full formal privileges, partial formal privileges, and informal privileges. We identify two alternative strategic routes through which emerging powers target these three types of privileges: a top-down and a bottom-up route. We analyze two factors that impact the choice between these two routes: restrictiveness of eligibility criteria for winning privileges, and the expected levels of opposition by both established powers and outsiders. We examine the impact of these factors on two cases in which India negotiated privileges: India’s top-down campaign to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council; and India’s bottom-up campaign to enter the nuclear club as a de facto nuclear weapon state. Highly restrictive eligibility criteria along with high levels of opposition drove India to gradually seek nuclear privileges through a bottom-up route.
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- Institutional power shift theory
- Security Council
- emerging powers
- institutional adaptation