The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must represent current global circumstances. The United Nations Security Council reduced to an instrument to serve the whims of its five permanent members. The UNSC not capable of averting the most devastating and terrible wars. Many of which are catered by the countries entrusted with the veto, because of structural flaws. Evidenced by Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and the United States’ invasion of Iraq.
The world can’t expect effective peacekeeping efforts as long as responsibility for maintaining peace and security is entrusted to the whims of just the most powerful in the international order. The UN reform, including the extension of the UNSC in both permanent and non-permanent categories, is critical for this aim. To this purpose, India’s government has been actively engaging with other like-minded countries. To further develop UN membership support for a serious restructure and expansion of the UNSC.
WHY UNSC REFORMS?
- The United Nations Security Council still reflects the geopolitical architecture of World War II. By virtue of having won a war 70 years ago, the Council’s five permanent members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China. They enjoy their status, as well as the privilege of a veto over any Council resolution or decision.
- Expanded only once, in 1963, to include four non-permanent members. Since then, the United Nations’ membership has expanded from 113 to 193, with no change in the UNSC’s composition.
- The Council’s current composition also assigns disproportionate weight to the power balance of at least a half-century ago. Europe, for example, although having just 5% of the world’s population, nonetheless controls 33% of the SC seats in any given year (and that does not count Russia, regarded by much of the world as another European power).
- There is no permanent member from Africa, despite the fact that Africa accounts for 75% of the UNSC’s activity.
- Unable to adequately respond to international conflict circumstances.
- Other states that have contributed through involvement in peacekeeping missions are denied opportunities due to the present Council composition. Seen in India and Brazil, for example.
- A two-thirds majority of the UN membership required for every amendment. An amendment would also need two-thirds of the member states to ratify it.
With a population of 1.2 billion people, a $ trillion economy, the world’s third-largest purchasing power parity economy, a nuclear weapons power with the world’s third-largest standing army, and a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, India should be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. India eminently suited for permanent membership in an expanded UNSC based on objective criteria such as population, territorial size, GDP, economic potential, civilizational legacy, cultural diversity, political system, and past and ongoing contributions to UN activities – particularly UN peacekeeping operations.
India’s performance as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2011-2012 has also bolstered its case for permanent membership. India was a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for seven periods, from 1950 to 1951, 1967 to 1968, 1972 to 1973, 1977 to 1978, 1984 to 1985, 1991 to 1992, and 2011 to 2012. For the 2021-22 term, India has re-joined the council as a non-permanent member.
India, along with Brazil, Japan, and Germany (known as the G-4) has suggested expanding the UNSC’s permanent and non-permanent membership categories. Pakistan has described the gathering as a “minority” that wants to reorganize the Security Council in order to protect “their national interests.”
Separately, India is leading the L.69 Coalition, a group of roughly 42 developing countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America that has sought immediate action on UNSC reform. The L.69 has been in talks with the African Union’s Committee of C-10 to develop a joint position on UNSC reform to gain the support of the 54-member strong African Group.
India is also pursuing the issue with its interlocutors through bilateral channels. A vast number of countries have backed India’s efforts to restructure the UN Security Council, as well as its bid for permanent membership.
- The reform has been stymied by opposition from Italy, Mexico, and Pakistan, dubbed the “Coffee Club” by UN diplomats, as well as hesitation from existing members.
- China doesn’t want its stature lowered. The prospect of sharing permanent status with India and Japan does not fill Beijing with joy. Though it has backed India’s application for permanent membership, it has stipulated that India’s bid be separate from Japan’s.
- A larger body would be more unwieldy, and a broader collection of permanent members would be more difficult to administer, the USA recognizes. Of course, the United States prefers a council that it can control.
- Due to strong rivalry among the potential African candidates and severe criticism of their candidacy within Africa, it was not possible to designate them. Under the guise of “the Ezulwini Consensus,” African opponents of Council reform have cleverly led the African Union into an untenable position (named after the Swaziland town in which the formula was agreed). In a reformed Council, the Ezulwini Consensus requests two permanent veto-wielding seats and five non-permanent members for Africa, a demand couched in terms of African self-respect but championed exactly by those countries that know it will never be given.
Kishore Mahbubani, a well-known professor and diplomat, proposes a UNSC reform formula of seven permanent members, seven semi-permanent members, and seven non-permanent members.
There is also widespread agreement that a concrete outcome on UNSC reform should be achieved in 2025, which will be the UN’s 70th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the 2005 World Summit, which called for “early” reform of the UNSC. Reform of global political management systems to respond to crises and violence is increasingly more critical at a time when faster-growing economies, more youthful populations, and the concentration of natural resources is mostly in the developing countries.
If India and Brazil represented on the UN Security Council, as well as Africa and West Asia. It will provide the council with a broader understanding and enable a smarter reaction to the world’s cascading political crises, rather than rash and excessive militarism.