Insights into Editorial: Padding up for the next UNSC innings
India was recently elected for its 8th term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the term 2021-22.
India has served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) more often than any country other than Japan from the Asia-Pacific Group.
India will need the vote of two-thirds of the 193 UN General Assembly members to win a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.
It is a matter of satisfaction and a tribute to Indian diplomacy that the Group unanimously decided this year to support India for an eighth second-year term. The elections are to take place in June next year. This means that India’s election is assured and its term will run in the calendar years 2021 and 2022.
About United Nations Security Council (UNSC):
UNSC is one of the principal organisation of United Nation with an aim for the international peace and security. As of now there are 15 members of UNSC.
Five of those US, UK, France, Russia and China are permanent members. India has been elected as a non-member of the UNSC for 7 terms.
Prime function of the UNSC should be to maintain international peace and security. It should also focus on shared goals, especially international social and economic cooperation
India was seemingly offered the UNSC membership twice but in both cases the offer could not have materialised since multiple forces were at play.
Keeping in step with the decolonising world, restructuring of the UN’s most important organ will serve as the most exemplary of reparation efforts at this point.
The potential of UN reform in resolving armed conflicts and humanitarian crises, especially in the Middle East and Africa, should not be stifled at the cost of status quo bias.
India is at the forefront of efforts at the UN to push for the long-pending reform of the Security Council, emphasising that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.
With India, as member the council would be more legitimate and thus a more effective body. Adequate presence of developing countries is needed in the security council.
Issues that need to be addressed during India’s tenure down the road:
The dynamics of international politics are fast moving.
Factors such as tensions between major powers; proxy wars in West Asia, and widespread and scattershot use of threat and economic sanctions by the United States.
It is significant that despite the poor state of bilateral relations with Pakistan, and the many challenges India has faced from China at the UN, both the countries graciously agreed to the nomination.
An even bigger challenge will be to nudge all five permanent members on the one issue they have unitedly resisted: towards the reform and expansion of the UNSC, which would include India’s claim to a permanent seat at the high table.
It is necessary for the government to think beyond the campaign for the UNSC, and work out a comprehensive strategy for what it plans to do with the seat.
Objectives for Indian foreign policy in UNSC:
Given the twin challenges of a rising China, and the U.S. receding from its UN responsibilities, India must consider how it will strengthen the multilateral world order amid frequent unilateral moves by both the world powers.
India has been at the forefront of the years-long effort to reform the security council saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the council, which, in its current form, does not represent the geopolitical realities of the 21st Century.
- India should aim to have its decisions in UNSC based on legal merit. This would be well respected by international community. Enhance its credentials as a constructive and responsible member of international society, which can be used in future to push for a permanent UNSC seat.
- India should emphasize and strengthening multilateralism in international politics to counter existing trends towards unilateralism, ethno-centrism, protectionism and racial intolerance.
- India should attempt to make progress on the non-discriminatory elimination of weapons of mass destruction, protection of the environment against global warming & and safeguarding outer space from weaponization
- India should underline the validity of Article 2 of the UN Charter that provides for state sovereignty and safeguards countries against outside interference in the domestic affairs of other states.
- India should seek to protect the World Trade Organisation from American attempts to undermine it, since the WTO’s dispute mechanism is a resource for developing countries.
- India should also work for the timely reforms in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Human Rights Council and other UN bodies despite the U.S. and a few other countries withdrawing support to them.
- India could use its presence on the UNSC’s sanctions subcommittee to proscribe Pakistan-based militant groups and individuals.
- India needs to become the leader of the South Asian region, since India cannot be considered a global power if it does not lead its own region.
- In upholding respect for a rules-based order in international society, India should underline the sanctity of treaties such as the multilateral accord with Iran endorsed by the Security Council and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In a highly significant diplomatic win for India and a testament to its growing global stature, India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term was unanimously endorsed by the Asia-Pacific group of the world body, including Pakistan and China.
Demosthenes in Fourth Century BC Athens stated that diplomats had “no battleships at their disposal, their weapons are words and opportunities”.
India’s presence on the UNSC will present opportunities to enhance the country’s reputation. American policies in India’s near-neighbourhood towards West Asia, Russia and China present challenges that can be met only with great skill and delicate balance.
India should aim to end its eighth term on the Council with its merit- and legality-based judgments intact and widely respected.