The United Nations came to be established in 1945 as a result of the world of 70 years ago, responding to the crisis of the World War II. The United Nations Security Council, the most powerful body of this international organization that represents the world’s 192 countries, has been dominated by the FIVE Permanent member states. India has served seven terms as a non-permanent member of UNSC and has echoed the need for expansion and reform in the Security Council. A permanent seat in UNSC would elevate India to the status of USA, UK, France, China and Russia in the diplomatic sphere and warrant India a critical say in all global matters that matter globally. The United Nations continued to be a representative of the world order of 1945.
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India, has strongly pitched for reforms in the United Nations Security Council and pointed out that neither India with nearly a sixth of the world’s population nor the largest continent Africa in terms of number of countries were on board. India has made several attempts, making a strong pitch for early reforms of the United Nations Security Council before a gathering of Africa’s leaders, saying both India and Africa can no longer be excluded from their “rightful place” in the world body. “Although Indians and Africans comprise nearly 2.5 billion people, our nations continue to be excluded from appropriate representation in the institutions of global governance,” Sushma Swaraj said last week. Swaraj, who addressed the ministerial meeting of the third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, also referred to the scourge of terrorism faced by India and Africa, and said the menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism has acquired a new dimension.
“India and Africa can no longer be excluded from their rightful place of the permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council. How can we expect legitimacy from a governance structure that excludes the entire African continent and a country, which represents one-sixth of humanity?” Over 180,000 Indian troops have participated in U.N. peacekeeping missions – more than any other country, she pointed out.
She said India was committed to a people-centric approach for cooperation with African countries focusing on capacity building, human resource development, and technical and financial support for mutually agreed priorities. Unless there were more democratic global governance structures, a more equitable international security and development framework will continue to elude the world, Swaraj said.
She said “A major issue is that of UN Security Council reforms. The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945. It is inconceivable that the Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa, which is the largest continent (in terms of number of countries),” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the third India-Africa Editors’ Forum meeting here.
She said it was also incomprehensible that India, which represents almost one-sixth of the world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, was still out of it. We all need to work together to remove this anomaly and the media has an important role in this,” she said.
India will surely have to cultivate a global consensus which will include the P-5. India is not the only country in the world eyeing a spot in UNSC. Other competing nations include the likes of Japan, Germany and Brazil. India commands three distinct characteristics which make its case for a permanent seat compelling. Currently having a population of 1.28 billion, India will become the most populous country in the world by 2022. Such a large portion of the planet’s population cannot be altogether ignored or kept at a distance from the decision making table of UNSC which brings with itself the “veto” power. Secondly, India happens to be the second fastest growing economy in the world making it an ideal destination for foreign investment and future growth. Thirdly, India is ruled by a democratic, secular government which has never been upstaged by an army coup and can be labelled as a “responsible” nuclear power.
A reform in UN Security Council would necessitate the need for an amendment in the UN Charter which is possible only when a resolution is adopted by two-third member nations in the UN General Assembly. It has to be further ratified by the constitutional process of two-third member nations including P-5. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is on record stating “President (Obama) would support the inclusion of India in that process (reform of UNSC)” but cables leaked by Wikileaks quoted Former US Secretary of State and arguably the next American president Hillary Rodham Clinton ridiculing countries like India as “self appointed front-runners” for a permanent membership of UNSC.
“We are dismayed at the opaque manner in which the Security Council continues to mandate peace operations, without any accountability or transparency,” India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji said at a General Assembly session on peacekeeping operations. “The human costs of this failing are evident in both the rising number of casualties among UN peacekeepers, as well as an alarming growth in the number of civilians, now reaching 60 million according to the Secretary General, whose lives are being disrupted by the conflicts that an ineffective Security Council is powerless to resolve,” Mukerji added. He appealed to Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft to “take the lead to prioritize agreement on an early reform of the Security Council during this 70th Session.”