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Insights into Editorial: UNGA president discusses options to conduct Security Council elections in June





UN General Assembly President has discussed options, including online voting, to conduct elections for five non-permanent members of the Security Council in June, as large in-person meetings at the world body stand postponed till at least end of June due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 193-member General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections in June for five non-permanent members of the Security Council, members of the Economic and Social Council, the president of the 75th session of the General Assembly and the vice presidents of the 75th session.

India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC elections this year and its victory is almost certain following the unanimous endorsement of its candidature by the 55-member Asia-Pacific grouping, including China and Pakistan.

Moreover, India for long has been of the view that the UNSC sought to be reformed by expansion in the membership of the Security Council in both the permanent and non – permanent categories.

General Assembly elects Five non-permanent members:

Elections for the five non-permanent members of the 15-nation Council for the 2021-22 term were scheduled for June 17.

Canada, Ireland and Norway are vying for two seats in the Western Europe and Other countries category, Mexico is the only candidate for the one Latin America and Caribbean seat and Kenya and Djibouti will contest the seat available for the African group.

Each year the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term.

The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis five for African and Asian States; one for Eastern European States; two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for Western European and other States. The election is held by secret ballot.

The General Assembly is not holding meetings in person as UN staff and diplomats telecommute due to the pandemic.

Permanent Membership of India in UNSC:

India deserves to be in the list of permanent members not only because of the one-sixth world’s population that resides in India but because of the following reasons:

  1. Being a founding member of the UN, India has always respected, participated and supported the United Nations.
  2. India is not only funding the UN substantially, but it is also leading the peace-keeping operations of the UN; upholding the principles & credentials of the UN.
  3. India is a major emerging economic power & follows an independent foreign policy, which signifies India’s stand on any issue on multinational forum.
  4. For example, India opposed the bombing in Libya at the first stance & later abstained from voting in the UN.

Permanent seat in the UNSC, would provide India with the much-needed leverage to expand its geo-political and geo-economic clout globally.

What do think will be the priorities for India to work on?

India in many ways is a sui generis country. It’s a country of a billion-plus, it’s a country which is a democracy, perhaps the only example in history of a billion-plus people working together in a democratic framework.

  1. India will bring to it those values and strengths of being able to work cohesively among disparate entities.
  2. One of the biggest issues that will confront all multilateral organisations and certainly the security council will be issues which are beyond borders.
  3. Issues of the global commons, whether it is in cases of public health as we are now seeing in the current pandemic, but other issues, for example, cyber [issues]. There are no regulatory mechanisms or no rules on that, and that’s another.
  4. A third one is issues of high seas. Again, beyond your EEZ [exclusive economic zone], there is very limited understanding of what states can do and what states can’t do.

Inclusion of India into UNSC will help in transforming its status from being a responsible stakeholder’ (following international norms) along with becoming a global rule-maker.

In reforms, now, why should we focus on these broader thematic issues?

It’s because you’ll see our experience has been: ungoverned spaces lead to opportunities for those who are inimical to global governance to breed, whether it is in states or it is beyond state boundaries, this has been the experience, and therefore, we as a country would like to focus on these things.

Another area of interest would obviously be technology with a human touch. Increasingly, resilience of human beings is an important factor that all of us have been confronted with where there are disasters, can we have a more humane approach to these, etc.

Under this procedure, the President of the General Assembly could circulate a letter to all member states and indicate the specific election and the names of candidates.

Propose that a secret ballot be dispensed with as the number of candidates is equal to or does not exceed the number of vacant seats.

Indicate that, if there is no objection until a specific date and time, those candidates would be considered elected; and

Indicate their terms of office and the date on which those terms begin in the event that they are elected.


Global power hierarchies are changing and the P5 needs to realize that this is high-time to initiate UNSC reforms.

The declining powers should either give away their membership or should expand the size of the UNSC opening the doors for new emerging powers.

Other reforms might succeed earlier than the expansion of P5. As at the end of the day, none of the so-called powerful nation wants to expand the table and share their pie with another nation.

India needs to focus on strengthening itself economically, militarily & diplomatically in order to participate in major conversations and groupings. Steadily, the UNSC will itself deem India fit to become a part of the UNSC.

India has been acknowledged as a rising power by most of the states. Also, there is a pressing need to democratize multilateral fora, starting from the United Nation system itself.

In this context, India is making a legitimate claim for its rightful place in the changing architecture of global governance, including the UN Security Council.


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper