Source: Rajya Sabha TV Debate
Manifest Pedagogy : UN is emerging as a global institution in the post Second World War era. With increasing role and functions of UNSC and a genuine shift in the global order from the time it has formed there is an urgent need for reforms to the global institution. In this changing global context and the aspirations of India to be part of this global institution this area is of great importance to UPSC Prelims and Mains.
India’s pursuit of UNSC reforms
Placing it in the syllabus
Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
- UN mandate
- UN Structure
- UNSC mandate
- UNSC members and powers
- Need for reform of UNSC- Changes in geopolitical realities since UNSC’s formation ..
- Credentials of India for UNSC membership
- G-4 grouping role
- Uniting for Consensus Group (UCG) purpose of formation and role
- Challenges on the way
- Benefits for India by Membership
India which represents one sixth of the global population has a rightful claim to the permanent membership of United Nations Security Council. One of the key historical reasons for India’s quest for a permanent seat at the UNSC was to ensure the protection of national interest in crucial diplomatic moments when the organization takes up issues such as Kashmir. Along with India the G4 nations also expressed the eagerness to discuss the reforms in UNSC
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundation document for all the UN work. The UN was established to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and one of its main purposes is to maintain international peace and security.
The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.
According to the Charter, the United Nations has four purposes:
- To maintain international peace and security;
- To develop friendly relations among nations;
- To cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
- To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.
All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.
UNSC members and powers
The Council is composed of 15 Members(5 Permanent and 10 Non-permanent):
The five permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States,
The ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term year) they are;
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- South Africa
Functions and powers of UNSC
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 theSecretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the Internal Court of Justice.
Need for reform of UNSC- Changes in geopolitical realities since UNSC’s formation
- Established by 51 countries 70 years ago, the UN has 193 member states that coexist, compete and cooperate in a world that is very different from the situation in 1945. Beyond a threefold increase in the global population, the rapidly changing world is characterised by a diffusion of power (away from states), an accompanying shift in relative material power and an ongoing transition from a brief period of unipolarity to multipolarity.
- After the 1965 enlargement of the non-permanent members of the UNSC from six to 10 members, reform has been on the agenda but has delivered nothing. Meantime, the roles and influence of civil society organisations in global governance has expanded. Civil society have not been actively engaged in UNSC reform to any meaningful extent, but the global village effect and the marked increase in new forms of instability (terrorism, cybercrime, events in Syria, etc.) is demanding new approaches.
- 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. Furthermore, the permanence and privileges in the Security Council of the countries that won World War II is no longer justified.
Credentials of India for UNSC membership
Following factors may be considered with regard to India’s permanent seat in UNSC
- Being the second most populated country in the world, India must have a permanent seat in the UNSC as its absence hurts the credibility of the UN system.
- India is the largest democracy in the world, one of the largest economies, one of the largest contributors to the UN peacekeeping forces.
- India has a stronger economy and stands in third position in GDP based on purchasing power parity(Next to USA and China).
- India has been elected seven times as a non permanent member of the UNSC.
G-4 grouping role
- 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 (UCG) purpose of formation and its role
- Uniting for Consensus Group formed by a group of nations including Italy, Spain, Pakistan are opposing G4 countries entry to 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) and
- It is calling for a consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council.
Challenges on the way
- Earlier US showed support to India, but it opposed reforms to UNSC. Among the five permanent members of the Security Council, the US, Russia and China opposed reforms to UNSC, while the UK and France supported India and other G4 nations.
- Securing Chinese support for India’s quest for a permanent seat on the UNSC has proved to be one of the biggest challenges for Indian foreign policy.
- The fate of India’s bid is mainly in the hands of the veto-wielding permanent members of the UNSC, and China is the only veto-wielding permanent member that has yet to extend unequivocal support to India’s bid to become a permanent member.
Benefits for India by Membership
- India, if made permanent member in the Security Council, will have a greater say in international affairs. It could get entry into other powerful groups such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Giving permanent seat to India helps the developing world to get represented in UNSC in a better way. This step can lead to more effective reforms, so that democracy will prevail in the Security Council