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UNSC Reforms & India’s prospects
On September 14, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) agreed that over the next year, it will negotiate on the text of a document for reforming the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the top decision-making body, which has 15 members. This was considered as big victory of India as it set the ball rolling for the UNSC reforms. Ahead of the United Nations (UN) conference,the Indian Prime Minister toured several countries and strongly lobbied for support for a permanent seat for India at the UNSC. It is probably because of this reason that despite the opposition of China, the UNGA agreed for the draft resolution.
The United Nations (UN) is the most important international body in the world formulating the international rules to be followed by individual nations and of all the UN bodies, UNSC is the final decision making body. It has 15 members out of which five are permanent commonly known as P-5 while 10 are temporary members elected for a two year term. The five permanent members which are the United States (US), the UK, France, Russia and China have veto power by virtue of which any P-5 member can overrule the decision taken by the UNSC.
The primary responsibility for maintaining international peace makes the UNSC most powerful body in the world. The UNSC can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.It also gives its recommendations to the UNGA for the appointment of the Secretary-General and admission of new members to the UN. Along with UNGA, it also elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.Because of all these reasons, every country is either vying for the membership at all powerful UNSC or trying to prevent others from joining the UNSC.
Though every country can become a non-permanent member of the UNSC, the permanent membership of the UNSC is highly distorted geographically, economically, politically, as well as demographically. Geographically, Latin America and Africa are devoid of any permanent membership while Europe boasts of three seats (the UK, France and Russia).
Economically, four of the five permanent members are the developed countries while China is the lone representative of developing world in the UNSC. Demographically also most of the world population is unrepresented in the highest decision making body of the world. And last but not the least; UN was formed in the backdrop of the Second World War by the allied powers. So all the permanent members are from allied powers and none of the so called axis powers like Japan or Germany have permanent candidature at the UNSC.
Because of all the aforesaid reasons, there is no dissent on the need of UNSC reforms butthere is disagreement over the modalities of reform. It is evident by the acceptance of draft negotiations on UNSC reforms at the 70th UNGA conference. To push for their case collectively, India, Germany, Japan and Brazil have formed a group namely G-4. As far as India’s candidature is concerned, none of the P-5 members have opposed overtly while Russia, France and the UK have openly supported. However, among G-4 members, Russia is not supportive of Germany and China is against the permanent membership to Japan.
There are number of factors which go in the favour of India like the largest liberal democracy, home to the world’s second largest population, third largest country in terms of PPP, third largest contributor of troops to the UN Peacekeeping Missions etc. However, despite these claims, road for India is not an easy one. First of all, the P-5 members are still not ready to share the power and hold they wield in the UN. Another hurdle is the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) movement, also nicknamed as Coffee Club, which was formed to oppose the possible expansion of UNSC. Its members include Italy, Pakistan, Mexico, Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, Canada, Spain, Indonesia, etc.
Thus it is clear that hurdles between India and a permanent berth the UNSC are immense and mere start of negotiations doesn’t assure the time bound reforms of the UNSC. Nevertheless, the process has started and it is a shot in the arm for India.
In 2015, the challenges faced by the global community are quite different from what were in 1945 when the UN was founded. Also, the geopolitical realities have also changed and UNSC should be made conducive to answer the present challenges. Since Indian credentials in supporting the global peace are second to none, whenever the UNSC reforms occur, India’s candidature for permanent berth at the UNSC (possibly without veto power) cannot be ignored.
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