Context: As the election to the temporary membership of the U.N. Security Council for the 2021-22 period is due, prospects of India for the same amongst other issues of relevance can be discussed.
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- The issue of the expansion and reform of the Security Council is not an India-centric issue.
- The institutions of global governance need an overhaul.
- It is an issue which entails a whole host of teams, because India in many ways is a sui generis country where a billion plus people work together in a democratic setup.
Priorities for India
- One of the biggest issues that will confront all multilateral organisations and certainly the security council will be issues which are beyond borders.
- 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.
- A third one is issues of high seas. Again, beyond EEZ , there is a very limited understanding of what states can do and what states can’t do.
- 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, a more humane approach is needed.
India’s position on accepting permanent membership sans veto power
- If we look at the voting pattern at that stage when the reform or the expansion from 11 to 15 happened by increasing four non-permanent members, none of those present there as permanent members right now voted in favour.
- There were some who opposed, there were others who abstained.
- The only representative at that stage who voted in favour of change was the Republic of China.
- On veto, there are many who feel that veto was the outcome of a situation in 1945 when the world was different.
- There are many who feel the need to be some restrictions on its use in some form or the other, that’s the global trend in these matters.
- India’s view is that it does not oppose any approach that is non-discriminatory in nature.
- On the issue of discrimination, India has a very strong historical record, whether it was going back to the NPT.
- At that stage, it was discriminating among those who had nuclear weapons before a certain date or later.
- Similarly on the issue of veto, if there are restrictions, these need to be applicable to everyone.
Internationalisation of Kashmir Issue
- In a globalised world, it can be said anything is internationalised, but there is no apprehension.
- States are sovereign, they can do what they want, but if they don’t have resonance, it’s a loss.
Plurilateralism v/s Multilateralism during a pandemic
- There doesn’t seem a conflict between the two frameworks.
- There are multiple levels at which the same issues can be addressed the same issue and perhaps that’s the way to go about it. There is a national effort under way.
- But that does not detract from a regional effort like India has tried in SAARC with our Health Ministers.
- The EU is trying in some way in the European Union countries, there are others trying elsewhere.
- However, at some stage, it needs to be addressed at multilateral level, beyond plurilateral levels.
- A pandemic knows no borders, so there will always be a threat unless we address it across the board, and that’s the role of multilateralism.
India’s position on a global response to terrorism
- It needs to be looked at in the global context in which CCIT (Comprehensive convention on International Terrorism) was submitted in 1996.
- At that stage, terrorism was not even looked on as anything beyond a law and order issue.
- Today, there are multiple elements as they are now part of many security council resolutions, itself.
- There still remain areas where addressal is needed like terrorism financing, terrorism nuclear issues.
United Nations Security Council
- The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
- It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote.
- Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.
- The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression..
- It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement.
- In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Members of UNSC:
- The Security Council is made up of fifteen member states - consisting of five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and ten non-permanent members elected for a two-year term by the General Assembly on a regional basis.
- "Veto power" refers to the power of the permanent member to veto (Reject) any resolution of the Security Council.
- Each year the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members by 2/3rd majority (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term. In accordance with the General Assembly resolution 1991 (XVIII) of 17 December 1963.
- The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis as follows: 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.
Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:
- To maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
- To investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
- To recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
- To formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
- To determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
- To call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
- To take military action against an aggressor;
- To recommend the admission of new Members;
- To exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in "strategic areas";
- To recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.
UNSC non-permanent seat: India’s candidature receives unanimous endorsement by Asia-Pacific group
- India has won the unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations in support of its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term in 2021-22.
- India has already held a non-permanent seat on the UNSC for seven terms: 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992 and 2011-2012.
Significance of such unanimous support:
- Pakistan and China, both countries with which India has had diplomatic challenges at the UN, supported the move.
- Vote of two-thirds of the 193 UN General Assembly members is required to win a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.
- India has been keen to hold the seat in 2021-22 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022.
India’s Demand for Permanent Membership
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:
- Being a founding member of the UN, India has always respected, participated and supported the United Nations.
- 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.
- India is a major emerging economic power & follows an independent foreign policy, which signifies India’s stand on any issue on multinational forums.
- UNSC lacks adequate representation of the developing nations that account for far more than half of the world’s population. This non-proportional representation of the non-P-5 member states in the Security Council gives them less ownership “in the maintenance of peace and international security” as stipulated in the Charter.
Various groupings formed:
- The G4 nations comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.
- Each of these four countries have figured among the elected non-permanent members of the council since the UN’s establishment. Their economic and political influence has grown significantly in the last decades, reaching a scope comparable to the permanent members
- Uniting for Consensus Group formed by a group of nations including Italy, Spain, Pakistan are opposing G4 countries entry to the Security Council.
- UfC is a movement, nicknamed the Coffee Club, that developed in the 1990s in opposition to the possible expansion of the United Nations Security Council.
- Under the leadership of Italy, it aims to counter the bids for permanent seats proposed by G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan).
- It is calling for a consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council.
Image Source: The Hindu