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

About UNSC

  • 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