India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti, speaking in the UN General Assembly on ‘Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council’, said that nothing has moved for more than a decade in the Inter-Governmental Negotiations except hearing passionate statements on the need for reform. Criticising the absence of even a single negotiating text, Tirumurti said that the IGN has become like a “platform for debate in a University rather than a serious result-oriented process in the United Nations consisting of sovereign member states”. Meanwhile, addressing a virtual summit of the BRICS grouping, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s long-standing demand of reformed multilateralism. Calling the theme ‘Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth’ not only relevant but also far sighted, PM Modi said questions are being raised on the credibility of the global institutions. He emphasised on reform of institutions like the UN, IMF, WTO and WHO to gain credibility.
Why India should be given a permanent seat in the council?
- For the first 40 years we did not want permanent membership.
- In 1993, we submitted a written proposal but did not mention that we need permanent membership.
- Only after that we have started asking for a permanent membership in the council.
- India was among the founding members of United Nations.
- It is the second largest and a one of the largest constant contributor of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping missions.
- Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the UN’s five big powers combined.
- India, since long time, has been demanding expansion of UNSC and its inclusion as permanent member in it. It has been a member of UNSC for 7 terms and a member of G-77 and G-4, so permanent membership is a logical extension.
Need for reforms in UNSC:
- Regional representation
- Supporters of UNSC reform claim that there is a huge European bias in P-5 due to the presence of the United Kingdom and France including Russia.
- While regions like Latin America, Caribbean group, Arabs and Africa do not have a single permanent member. Similarly, there is a western bias in UNSC. As China is the only Asian country among the five permanent members of UNSC.
- Thus a large chunk of the population and many different regions of the world remain unrepresented in the permanent membership of UNSC.
- It seems highly unfair that the whole continent of Africa does not have a single member in P-5 despite the fact that most of the affairs of the body concern this part of the globe only.
- So regions like Africa and Latin America and others will have to be accommodated in the reformed UNSC.
- Changing geopolitics:
- The victors of World War II shaped the United Nations Charter in their national interests, dividing the permanent seats, and associated veto power, among themselves.
- It has been 72 years since the foundation of UNSC.
- During this period, the geopolitical realities have changed drastically, but the Council has changed very little.
- Question of Veto:
- All five permanent members of UNSC enjoy a veto power .
- Veto is a kind of negative vote by a permanent member that prevents the adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required overall votes by the members.
- Sadly, veto power is grossly misused by the permanent members in their own national interest.
- Out of 24 vetoes over the last 20 years, 15 have been used by the United States to protect Israel.
- This also badly affects the conduct of the business of UNSC as many important proposals involving substantive issues get blocked due to use of veto by any of the five permanent members.
- G-4 and India s quest for a permanent seat:
- In recent decades, India has been very vocal in demanding for a permanent seat in UNSC. It is also part of G-4, a group of 4 nations (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan) to lobby for permanent positions on the UNSC or at least to make the council more representative.
- Many member-states have been pledging support for our aspiration for permanent membership. Several P-5 countries have also announced their support. At present, China is the only P-5 member opposing India s bid.
- G-4 wants to expand the permanent seats in the UNSC to 10 to include 6 new members G-4 nations apart from one seat to Africa and one seat to Arabs
- Transparency and Working Methods:
- While the expansion of the Security Council has been hotly debated across the world, debate on the working methods of the Council, an equally important aspect of reform to many member states, has attracted less attention.
- It is true that UNSC has been functioning in the most non-transparent and non-consultative way.
- The undemocratic nature of UNSC within the supposedly democratic UN has compromised the overall credibility of the United Nations.
- India was among the founding members of United Nations.
- India has been a leader and largest constant contributor of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping missions.
- India always has been upholding UN principles.
- It is a major big economic emergent power.
- India’s picture in the UN as well as in the world has increased whether it is the election of ICJ.
- 177 countries including Islamic countries celebrated International Yoga Day.
- India enjoys the backing of major powers including four permanent members other than China and those of African Union, Latin America, Middle Eastern countries and other LDCs from different parts of the globe.
- India has been a responsible power and it has contributed significantly in global peace efforts.
- India rescued not only Indians but also many persons from other countries including Pakistan and USA from war ravaged Yemen and South Sudan under its operation Rahat and Sankat Mochan respectively.
- China opposes Japan’s entry.
- Italy and Spain opposes Germany’s entry.
- Argentina and Mexico opposes Brazil’s bid.
- African countries have not come up with their candidates.
- India has emerged as the strongest candidate.
- UNSC is balance of power reflectivity of 1945 and not today.
- Out of the 122 members who have given their comments on negotiations, 113 support the reforms.
- All the permanent members have their angularities when it comes to expanding the UNSC with Franch supporting openly.
- India follows an independent foreign policy which is very often not seen as those in power sitting in sync with them.
Hindrance on the way:
- They make many statements but none of the permanent 5 want reforms of UNSC.
- Britain and France have made some voice in order to support India, their primary goal is to ensure whatever happens their position remain because they both have joined the EU and as part of the EU they need to coordinate their foreign policies.
- One opposing another country’s entry.
- No consensus among African countries.
How beneficial are the reforms at UNSC for India?
- We can project our interests more powerfully.
- We would be directly responsible for peace and security questions.
- Rise as a global power.
Why IMF needs reform?:
- Quotas: The rising clout of developing countries today vis-à-vis. the developed ones is not commensurate with their quotas. Moreover the recent announcement of deferring the next round amendments in quota till 2019 could be dampener.
- Appointment:The heads have historically been appointed from a coterie of developed nations leading to discrimination of developing countries tries
- Rise of alternative institutions:Like NDB,AIIB have come up as an alternative to IMF. They look to provide greater credit with more creditor-friendly terms
- India’s claim for permanent membership is a genuine demand in the changed geo politics of 21st century as we have discussed before. India is possibly the most obvious and least controversial option to add as a permanent member, and probably long overdue for a seat.
- UNSC is mandated to keep international peace and security.
- However it is under constant criticism for its plans and actions. It is said to be performing in unilateral way with unquestioned authority, working only for vested interests and not making non-permanent members inclusive in their decision making.
- In this context, we can see that India’s demand is not illegitimate as India does wield a certain influence in world affairs today due to its impressive economic growth and strong military base.
- South Asia being a victim of various repercussions of war, terrorism, and extremism India gains more say on its and neighbor’s problems and will have power to challenge the ethos and working style of permanent members of UNSC.
- In the contemporary period, if India has to make a strong claim to permanent membership, it has to single mindedly focus on economic growth, with concomitant military might.