India and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

Mains Marks Booster     27th July 2023        
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Introduction: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is a principal organ of the United Nations responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It possesses significant powers, including the establishment of peacekeeping operations, international sanctions, and authorization of military action. The UNSC is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions.

India's participation in the UNSC

  • Eighth tenure: India is currently serving its eighth term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.
  • Previous tenures: India served as a non-permanent member in 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92, and 2011-12.
  • Presidency opportunity: Each non-permanent member has the chance to operate as the president of the UN Security Council during its two-year term.

Need for UNSC Reforms

Non-representative nature

  • Lack of representation: The current structure of the UNSC does not adequately represent the developing world and global needs, with excessive power held by the P5.
  • Demand for inclusion: Countries like India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan (G4) have put forward their claims for permanent membership, citing their contributions and strong cases for inclusion.

Rigid framework

  • Amendment requirement: Reforms to the UNSC necessitate amendments to the UN charter, as stated in Article 108.
  • Consensus from all members: Any reform requires the support of at least two-thirds of UN member states and unanimous agreement from all permanent members.

Misuse of Veto power

  • Varying stances: The P5 members' support for expansion varies based on their national interests, with most P5 members except China agreeing to India's inclusion.
  • Reform challenges: Even if one P5 member disagrees with any reform, it becomes impossible to enact changes to the UNSC.

Unanimity in Decisions

  • Inability to reach consensus: The UNSC has failed to achieve consensus on major global security issues, leading to interventions by individual countries without UNSC resolutions.
  • Examples: Instances include the US entry into the Iraq war and the Warsaw Pact's war in Afghanistan, where the UNSC could not agree on a course of action.
  • Selective resolutions: The UNSC tends to pass strong resolutions against weaker countries, weak resolutions against stronger countries, and no resolutions against P5 nations.

Rise of bilateralism

  • Intractable differences: Differences between the US, China, and Russia have become entrenched and difficult to resolve.
  • Expansive claims: China has emerged as a great power, asserting expansive claims and working to fulfill them.
  • Closer ties: Russia has moved closer to China, further complicating global dynamics.

Relevance of the UNSC

  • Principal organ for global peace: The UNSC plays a crucial role in maintaining international peace and security as one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.
  • Global order watchdog: It is responsible for accepting new members to the United Nations and approving changes to the UN Charter.
  • Maintenance of peace: The UNSC possesses powers to establish peacekeeping operations, impose international sanctions, and authorize military action.

Way forward

  • Correcting power imbalances: Urgent action is needed to address the power disparities between the P5 and the rest of the world.
  • Expansion: The UNSC should expand from five to ten permanent members, including the addition of G4 countries and South Africa.
  • Equitable representation: This expansion would ensure equitable regional representation and balance between the developing and developed world.
  • Minimizing impact of reforms: Expanding the P5 without veto power would have limited impact on resolving the underlying problems necessitating reforms.
  • Rationalizing the Veto: The veto power should be abolished altogether to ensure a more democratic decision-making process.
  • Dealing with a hostile China: India needs to navigate the challenges posed by China and the emergence of a unipolar Asia cantered around China.
Conclusion: By actively engaging with regional organizations and emphasizing the importance of multilateralism, India can play a constructive role in shaping the future of the UNSC and promoting a more equitable and effective global order.
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