India lashed out on Monday, November 16th about the slow pace of UN Security Council reforms – calling the current body an “impaired organ” – expressed deep frustration with the change process that has been on for years without any progress, and raised the possibility of exploring alternative routes.
Participation in a UN General Assembly debate on “equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council,” TS Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, also sought to dismiss Pakistan’s India obsession as “Pavlovian”, in response to remarks by its representative, Munir Akram, that India doesn’t deserve a seat on the UNSC – “permanent or even non-permanent”.
“I do not wish to waste the time of this assembly by responding to the irrelevant and irresponsible remarks made by the representative of Pakistan, which has become ‘Pavlovian’ whenever India is mentioned,” Tirumurti said, adding, “This is a forum for serious debate, not frivolous allegations.”
India has sought a permanent seat on an expanded and reformed Security Council. Four of the current five permanent members – the US, UK, France and Russia – support its claim. The fifth member is China.
The Security Council is the top decision making body for the United Nations and deals with issues ranging from disputes between countries to terrorism and even the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The 15-member body has five permanent and 10 non-permanent members, each with two-year terms. While the number of permanent members has remained unchanged since the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago in 1945, the number of non-permanent members, on the other hand, grew from the original six to 10 in 1965.
While there is a broad consensus for reforming the Security Council, some countries – loosely called the Coffee Club – have opposed it to block the claims of countries that they believe are their regional rivals. Pakistan is a member of this club. Other members are Argentina, which opposes Brazil’s claim; Italy and Spain, who oppose Germany; and Australia, which opposes Japan. Tirumurti did not name them, but blamed a “handful of countries” for holding up the reforms, to India’s mounting frustration.
India has called for the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN), as the process to reform the UN Security Council is called, to show more urgency and move the process from annual discussions – which Tirumurti said had become like university debates – to text-based negotiations. India wants the process to adopt a document for negotiations, which could incorporate proposals for discussion, amendments, rejection or adoption.
India calls for “text-based negotiations to start”, Tirumurti said. “A text reflecting all positions and proposals from member states will be necessary to make progress”.Experts have long pressed for change at the UN, and pointed to China as the major hurdle.