Current Affairs

UN SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM ISSUE

UN SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM ISSUE

Why in News ?

  • In the first concrete step towards negotiations for India’s hopes of an expanded U.N. Security Council (UNSC), the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on Monday to use a text as the basis for discussions on the issue over the next year.
  • While the U.N.’s Inter-governmental negotiations (IGN) have been under way since 2008, this is the first time that a “negotiating text” is being accepted to begin talks, as opposed to just statements and speeches.
  • Last month, the government had been taken aback by letters from the U.S., Russia and China that were circulated by UNGA president Sam Kutesa, that didn’t explicitly support India’s case for a permanent Security Council seat, as other countries had.
  • While U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Russian President Sergei Ivanov have since clarified that they continue to support India’s claim, China has made no clear statement on its plan, leaving diplomats apprehensive that China could still oppose or try to scuttle the process.

Background

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues:

  1. categories of membership,
  2. the question of the veto held by the five permanent members,
  3. regional representation,
  4. the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and;
  5. the Security Council-General Assembly relationship.

History and Rationale behind UNSC reforms

  • Even though the geopolitical realities have changed drastically since 1945, when the set-up of the current Council was decided, the Security Council has changed very little during this long period.
  • The winners of Second World War shaped the Charter of the United Nations in their national interests, dividing the permanent seats, and associated veto-power, amongst themselves. Any reform to the Security Council would require an amendment to the Charter.
  • The imbalance between the number of seats in the Security Council and the total number of member States became evident, and the only significant reform of the Security Council came to pass in 1965. The reform included an increase of the non-permanent membership from six to 10 members.
  • By 1992, Japan and Germany had become the second and third largest financial contributors to the United Nations and started to demand a permanent seat. Also Brazil (fifth largest country in terms of territory) and India (second largest country in terms of population) as the most powerful countries within their regional groups and key players within their regions saw themselves with a permanent seat. This group of four countries formed an interest group later known as the G4.
  • On the other hand, their regional rivals were opposed to the G4 becoming permanent members with a veto power.
  • They favored the expansion of the non-permanent category of seats with members to be elected on a regional basis. Italy, Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt started to form an interest group, known as the “Coffee Club” and later “Uniting for Consensus”.
  • Simultaneously, the African Group started to demand two permanent seats for themselves, on the basis of historical injustices and the fact that a large part of the Council’s agenda is concentrated on the continent.
  • Those two seats would be permanent African seats, that rotate between African countries chosen by the African group.

India’s Case for UNSC Permanent Member

  • Indiawhich joined the U.N. in 1945, two years before independence in 1947, is the second-largest and one of the largest constant contributors of troops to United Nations peacekeeping
  • Foreign Policy magazine states that, “India’s international identity has long been shaped by its role in U.N. peacekeeping, with more than 100,000 Indian troops having served in U.N. missions during the past 50 years.
  • Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the U.N.’s five big powers combined.
  • The country currently has the world’s second largest population and is the world’s largestliberal democracy. It is also the world’s ninth largest economy by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity.
  • Currently, India maintains the world’s third largest activearmed force and is a nuclear weapon state. India and Japan are only two states among G4 that have an independent capability to place satellites in orbit.
  • India’s bid for permanent member of UNSC is backed by permanent members namely France, Russia,the United Kingdom and United States,
  • Although the United States initially opposed India’s candidacy on grounds of nuclear proliferation, as India has acquired nuclear weapons and not signed theNuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • On 15 April 2011,China officially expressed its support for an increased Indian role at the United Nations, without explicitly endorsing India’s Security Council ambitions.
  • However, recently China has expressed its support for Indian candidacy as a permanent member of the Security Council if India revoked its support for Japanese candidacy
Question:

“Just like a building which needs to be modified to the needs of the time, the institutions are also in desperate need of an overhaul and for that matter Security Council reform is the most important aspect of the United Nations' institutional reform.'' Comment.

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