India has chaired the G-20 Summit of the world’s top leadership, with aplomb. While the world leaders enjoyed the Indian ‘hospitality par excellence’ at New Delhi, they were subtly given the message that India has arrived at the world stage. The world’s who & who were present except the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who was absent for ‘no reason at all’ and Russian Premier, Vladimir Putin who was too occupied with the never-ending Ukraine War. India’s pivotal role in global geopolitics was further underlined by the successful presidency of G20, after many success stories like ‘Chandrayaan -3’ and ‘Mission Mangal’ scripted by India, in this century. The oldest living civilization and the largest democracy in the world rightfully deserves a permanent seat in the top world forum (UNSC).
Genesis of UNSC
The United Nations was formed in the aftermath of World War II, in 1945 as the world was in ruins after thousands of deaths and destruction. The Security Council, the United Nations’ principal crisis-management body, is empowered to impose binding obligations on the member states to maintain peace.
The victorious countries of WWII were given a permanent seat in the UNSC with VETO powers in all world affairs. These five powerful countries were the USA, USSR, UK, France and China. The primary reasons for selection of these P-5 were as follows-
- All five were major powers after WWII.
- Only Nuclear Powers as per NPT.
- They controlled 60% of expenditure on the global defence budget.
- They are among the top 10 Largest defence exporters.
Need for reforms
UNO and UNSC also have to change with times, to honour the changing dynamics of the emerging world order. Structurally, the UN and UNSC remained largely unchanged since its founding in 1945, stirring debate amongst members about the need for reforms. 75 years is a long time in the changing kaleidoscope of the world. The world has changed from Bipolar to Unipolar and now Multipolar with the decline of so-called superpowers and the emergence of new power blocks.
The following aspects merit consideration for reforms in UN and UNSC-
- Undemocratic Representation: UNSC is considered undemocratic with limited representation of large parts of the world like South Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asian Republics, Pacific Region countries etc.
- Diminishing P-5: The UK, France and Russia are diminishing world powers and cannot be considered as mighty five. India, Japan, Germany, Israel and Brazil are coming up as developing countries and regional powers.
- Dynamics of Global Geopolitics: The Emerging new world order and aspirations of regional powers also have to be factored in.
- Lack of Global Governance: It is felt that the UNSC lacks global governance. There are no answers to global problems sans borders like terrorism, cyber security, drug cartels, cryptocurrency, natural disasters etc.
- Misuse of VETO Power. It is often felt that the UN agenda is highjacked by the UNSC permanent members, who misuse their veto powers for the furtherance of their national interests rather than enforcing global governance or ‘Rule Based Order’ in the world.
The UNSC composition and powers can only be changed by UN reforms methodology. There have been long outstanding demands to undertake those reforms. The Procedure for UN reforms is as follows-
- The resolution has to be adopted by 2/3 members of the UN General Assembly.
- The same has to be ratified by a constitutional process in 2/3 member countries of the UN.
- Finally, it has to be approved by the UNSC by a majority vote and no veto by P-5. Here lies the catch, Why should all P-5 members agree to axe their feat and curtail or share the powers, bestowed upon them by the UN Charter?
India’s claim to P-5 status
Shining India. In the 21st Century, India stands at the door of UNSC knocking for a rightly deserved place on the P-5 table. The following points merit India’s claim to UNSC permanent membership-
- Largest Population. India has the largest population with 19 % of the world’s population share. It’s also the Youngest country. Therefore, it represents a large chunk of the world’s youngest population which needs proper representation.
- Mature Democracy. India is the oldest and largest functional democracy with stable credentials in the world. Approx 100 crore voters will be taking part in the next General Elections in 2023. The gigantic exercise with mammoth magnitude is conducted to ‘6 Sigma’ perfection every five years.
- Economic Power. India is the Fifth largest (GDP) economy and the fastest-growing large economy. It will soon be the third largest economy with a $ 05 trillion GDP.
- Military Might. India is a peace-loving country with the fourth most powerful armed forces as a ‘Force of Deterrence’. We are a mature Nuclear Power with second-strike capability. India has the Third largest Air Force and Blue Water Navy with two Aircraft Carriers. Also, India is a growing Aerospace power with Anti-satellite weapons capability.
- Friendly Soft Power. India has been at the forefront of all humanitarian aid across the globe. India has also contributed significantly towards saving the planet Earth, avoiding pollution, promoting green energy and reducing carbon footprints. India has promoted wellness of body, mind and soul by focusing on Yoga, Pranayam, Ayurveda and spirituality.
- Most Digital Savvy Country. India is the largest consumer of data in the world with the largest no of digital transactions per day. The growth engines of India are fired by the digitally savvy new generation, promoting financial transactions online and innovative use of AI for health care, education and industrial growth.
India’s contribution towards UN:
India is a founder member of UNO and it has actively participated and positively contributed to all UN-lead activities for the last 75 years. The following points are noteworthy-
- It is the largest contributor of defence forces and police personnel towards UN Peacekeeping. In 2022, it contributed over 2,00,000 troops towards UN peacekeeping.
- It is also amongst the largest contributors to UN activities giving a large sum of over $ 40 Million per year. It’s significant when many nations are defaulting on payment of their share towards this organization.
- It’s always the first responder in case of natural calamities in the world. India’s efforts of supplying medicines and vaccines to 101 countries during COVID was applauded by the world.
- India has been elected a member of the UNSC for 08 terms. It has already announced its candidature for the 2028-29 term again.
- India has been a leading voice on environmental and social issues like climate change, disarmament, human rights violations, women empowerment, crime against children and girl child protection.
- India dons the leadership of developing countries by being a member of large no of regional groups like G15, G20, QUAD, BRICS, BIMSTEC, ASEAN, ICC, IMF, MTCR, SCO, SAARC, WTO etc.
- India has a huge Diaspora working across the globe and their interests have to be protected. Also, the expansion of Indian economic footprints across its frontiers necessitates that the country should have a reasonable say in world affairs to protect its national interests.
The permanent seat for India at the P-5 table of the UNSC has to come through reforms in the UN Charter. India is part of P-4 countries namely India, Brazil, Japan and Germany who are demanding reforms to become permanent members of UNSC. The procedure for a UN reform resolution is that it has to be adopted by 2/3 members of the UN General Assembly, followed by its ratification as per the constitution by 2/3 members of the UN. Thereafter, it has to be approved by UNSC, without VETO.
India will be able to sail through the first two steps. India’s election to UNSC in 2021-22 was with overwhelming superiority wherein 184 members out of 193 voted in its favour. That also indicates India’s popularity as a favourite choice for UNSC. When it comes to the UNSC, four out of Five permanent members have endorsed India’s claims to Permanent membership with the exception of China. China is likely to veto the proposal, notwithstanding the fact that India had once declined this seat, in favour of China, when offered by the USA and USSR in the 1950s.
India’s meteoric rise in the World Forum in the 21st Century and its friendly contributions towards the aims and charter of UNO make it a deserving case for permanent membership of UNSC. Vested interests of the existing members may sabotage the justified claim of India, as of now but will not be able to do it for long. Certainly, this century belongs to India and the world may ignore this fact for some time, albeit at its own peril.