What exactly is United Nations Security Council (UNSC)?

  1. UN Security Council was created following World War II to address the failings of another international organisation, the League of Nations, in maintaining world peace.
  2. It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.

Then, who holds UNSC’s power?

  1. As of now, there are 15 members on the UNSC. Five of those (mostly powers who emerged victorious in the World War II), including the US, UK, France, China and Russia are permanent members.
  2. These members have the all-important veto power which would mean that a resolution or decision would not be approved. Many a times, veto has been used for their own interests.
  3. The remaining 10 non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms, starting 1 January.
  4. Five members are replaced each year. India has been elected as a non-permanent member to the UNSC for 7 such terms, the last of which was in 2011-12.

Okay, so where does India stands in all ?

India want a permanent membership to the UNSC for two reasons.

  1. First, the veto power, which India could use to defend its interests, say against Pakistan (just like Russia did last year over the civil war in Ukraine).
  2. Second, the sheer prestige associated with permanent membership of a multilateral forum. India’s elevation will also be an acknowledgment of its rise as a global power, ready to play a key role in the council’s objectives of international peace and security.
  3. India also believes that the UNSC, which was constituted in 1945 after the World War II, does not reflect the geopolitical realities—the emergence of a multipolar world order largely thanks to the rise of developing economies like China, Brazil and India.
  4. Also, India is the largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO), with nearly 180,000 troops serving in 44 missions since it was established.
  5. India is also among the highest financial contributors to the UN, with the country making regular donations to several UN organs like the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

Sounds like a fair ask! So who all support India for this?

  1. Four of the five permanent members have supported India’s bid. China is the only permanent member that has been ambiguous in its support for India, owing to its close ties with Pakistan.
  2. Other member states, like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore, Malaysia and the whole of the African Union have also endorsed India’s bid.

And who opposes?

  1. India’s nuclear-armed rival Pakistan has been leading the opposition to its inclusion in the UNSC’s list of permanent members.
  2. Other countries, part of an interest group called the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC), also curiously called “The Coffee Club”, formed in 1995, are opposed to India (and the G4’s bid) for permanent seats.
  3. Italy, Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt were founder members of the UFC. The list also includes Argentina, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and Indonesia.

Anyway, What’s the process to get into permanent membership?

  1. The reform of the Security Council can only take place if two-thirds of UN member states vote in favour, along with an affirmative vote from all the permanent members, who enjoy the veto power.
  2. Effectively, even if India secures the support of two-thirds of UN members, who are present and voting, it would still need the five permanent members to not use the veto and thereby, prevent the adoption of the reform process.

So far, what’s the progress from India’s side?

  1. Recently, the UN General Assembly adopted a negotiating text by consensus for the long- pending Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the issue at its 70th session, boosting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the revamped world body.
  2. India termed as “historic” and “path-breaking” the adoption of the document, saying the decision puts the Inter- Governmental Process formally on an “irreversible text-based negotiations path” and changes the “dynamics” of the negotiations on achieving UNSC reforms.
  3. China, predictably, said that this was a “technical” or “roll-over” decision. Pakistan too joined the chorus. Italy too has made their opposition clear.
  4. It is widely known that majority in the UN security Council do not want the council to be expanded. And they have been using their proxies to scuttle the process. And that will be the game in town in the months to come.
  5. Now, it will be for India, to team up with other like-minded countries across continents (L-69 and G-4 groupings, to begin with), to get the UNGA to push the text-based negotiations towards conclusion in the coming months and years.

There is no time to sit back and rejoice. The uphill task has just begun. Now, with a text in front of the UNGA, the challenge is to take it forward with optimism.


 

Published with inputs from Arun

Any doubts?


[op-ed snap] Of paramount interest?

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to Rohingya, terrorism and cyber attacks.


News

Context

  1. The article briefly talks about the UN’s inability to counter some serious issues

Important statement by Secretary of the UNGA

  1. “We are a world in pieces, we need to be a world at peace“, he said.
  2. He listed the world’s seven biggest threats
    (1) nuclear peril,
    (2) terrorism
    (3) unresolved conflicts and violations of international humanitarian law
    (4) climate change
    (5)growing inequality
    (6) cyber warfare and misuse of artificial intelligence
    (7) and human mobility, or refugees.
  3. Even a cursory glance shows that each of these issues saw little improvement at the UNGA

Almost no effect of sanctions on country

  1. The UN’s actions in response to North Korea’s missiles and nuclear tests just amounted to another round of sanctions
  2. Past history points to the slim chances of success of this tack
  3. Since 1966, the UN Security Council has established 26 sanctions regimes, of which about half are still active
  4. In some cases, the sanctions only squeezed the country’s poor, as in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia) and DPRK itself, while not changing its belligerent positions

Late action of the UN on Raohingya issue

  1. The Security Council is meeting this week to consider the situation
  2. But it is short on ideas and late on action, and restoring more than a million stateless refugees to their homes seems a difficult task for the UN

UN inability to counter terrorism

  1. India’s grievances here are justified and are a symptom of the UN’s powerlessness to enforce even the basic strictures against terrorists it sanctions
  2. Terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and associates now plan to stand for public office in Pakistan
  3. India struggles to convince China to allow the Security Council to sanction Masood Azhar, whose release in exchange for hostages in 1999 should have been proof enough of his infidelity

What should be done against cyber attacks?

  1. The UN must do more to act on attacks carried out by states, especially those that are permanent members of the Security Council
  2. Both Russia and the U.S. have been known to use cyber warfare, must see more regulation from the international community

The way forward

  1. The UN will not work effectively if it is used merely as forum for destructive propaganda
  2. Neither will it work if it is used only as a convenience when national interests are directly involved
  3. And regarded with indifference, or bypassed or opposed, when the general world interest is paramount

India home to 23.4% of world’s hungry, 51% women are anemic: UN report

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Report

Mains level: the ‘Hunger’ issue is specially mentioned in the syllabus. Any UN report on this issue is very important from the UPSC perspective.

News

Rise in Hunger Level

  1. According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report, the number of undernourished people in the world increased
  2. The number has increased to an estimated 815 million in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015
  3. Global hunger is on the rise again
  4. The report further said that the food security situation has worsened in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, south-eastern Asia and western Asia
  5. And deterioration has been observed mostly in situations of conflict, and conflict combined with droughts or floods

Data on India

  1. Data from the report showed that India is home to 190.7 million of them—a 14.5% prevalence of hunger vis-a-vis its total population
  2. The data further showed that 38.4% of children under five in India are stunted, while 51.4% of women in reproductive ages are anemic

Aadhaar critical step in enabling fairer access: U.N.

  1. Source: 2016 Report on the World Social Situation, released by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
  2. Findings: India’s unique identification programme Aadhaar is a “critical” step in enabling fairer access to govt services
  3. It has “tremendous potential” for fostering inclusion by giving all people, including the poorest and most marginalised, an official identity
  4. Fair and robust systems of legal identity and birth registration are recognised in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an important foundation for promoting inclusive societies
  5. The theme of this year’s report is ‘Leaving No One Behind — The Imperative of Inclusive Development’

Note4students:

Name of the report can be useful from prelims perspective. The 2030 Agenda is also important. The reports findings are supportive of the govt’s thrust on Aadhaar compliance, despite the concerns about privacy.

Back2basics:

The UN DESA is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 Sept 2015. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and include goals such as eradicating poverty by 2030.

Cuban rumba and Ugandan music now on UNESCO’s heritage list

  1. Event: UNESCO’s meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa
  2. It added Cuba’s rumba dance, Belgium’s thriving beer culture, Portugese pottery, Ukraine’s Cossack song and Ugandan traditional music to UNESCO’s coveted list of “intangible” heritage
  3. UNESCO noted that Belgium produces some 1,500 types of beer
  4. While in Cuba because the rumba sprang from poor communities the dance is an enduring “expression of resistance and self-esteem”
  5. The list of “intangible” cultural treasures was created 10 years ago
  6. It was mainly to increase awareness about them, while UNESCO also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them
  7. It designated Ugandan traditional music, which is dying out partly because it requires materials from endangered species, as intangible heritage “in urgent need of safeguarding”
  8. A black pottery manufacturing process from the Portuguese village of Bisalhaes was also added to the UNESCO list
  9. Another cultural gem added to the list is Cossack song from Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region
  10. The committee will wind up its review of nominations to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list

Back2basics:

What’s an intangible heritage?

As defined by UNESCO, cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants.

Per UNESCO, Intangible cultural heritage is:

  1. Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time
  2. Inclusive – contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity
  3. Representative – skills and customs passed on to the rest of the community, from generation to generation
  4. Community-based

U.N. counsels patience on listing of Azhar II

  1. The CCIT has been held up at the U.N. by several countries, mainly the U.S. and France
  2. Reason: These countries feel that the current definition of terrorism targeting civilians could also be used against their military during international interventions
  3. A more urgent issue for the government is naming Masood Azhar as a designated U.N. terrorist
  4. He will then be sanctioned under the UNSC’s 1267 resolution that would direct Pakistan to place restrictions on him

U.N. counsels patience on listing of Azhar I

  1. What: India must show patience on its counter-terrorism concerns according to the the Executive Director of the UNSC’s counter-terrorism body, CTED
  2. The CTED was formed under resolution 1373 after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. to help countries work together on prosecuting terrorists
  3. Issues with UN: India has a number of concerns regarding the slow processing of India’s applications with the U.N. on terror
  4. Chief among those is the early ratification of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terror (CCIT) that India introduced in 1996

U.K., France back UNSC permanent seat for India

  1. Issue: India’s bid for a permanent seat in a reformed UNSC
  2. The bid received strong support from many member states of the world body, including the U.K. and France
  3. U.K.’s representative said at the session that Britain believed in a modest expansion in the permanent and non-permanent categories
  4. He reiterated his country’s support for permanent seats for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, alongside permanent African representation
  5. France’s representative said his country wished to see the Council reflect the emergence of new world powers
  6. Thus it supported the candidacies of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan and the increased representation of African countries

UN lights up for Diwali for the first time

  1. Event: Diwali was commemorated for the first time at the United Nations
  2. It is for the first time that the Indian festival of lights is celebrated at the world body
  3. Why: The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in December, 2014 that acknowledged the “significance of Diwali”
  4. Earlier in June, the U.N. building was lit up on the occasion of the International Yoga Day

Wonder Woman named special U.N. ambassador

  1. Comic book character Wonder Woman was declared by the UN as its new Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Woman and Girls
  2. The super heroine’s image will be used by the U.N. on social media platforms to promote women’s empowerment
  3. However, an online petition , started by U.N. staffers, asked the secretary-general to reconsider the appointment
  4. According to the petition, this sends a wrong message

India welcomes Antonio Guterres as next UN Secretary-General


  1. News: The selection of Portugal’s former premier Antonio Guterres as the next UN Secretary General to replace Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of next year
  2. India has welcomed the selection
  3. He emerged as a leading candidate in all of the Security Council’s straw polls
  4. None of the five veto-wielding permanent members voted against him
  5. He would be the 9th Secretary General of the UN
  6. Mr. Guterres: The 67-year-old, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002
  7. Then served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015
  8. His selection for the post of the world’s top diplomat slashed hopes for a woman to succeed Ban Ki-moon

Let’s know more about non-permanent members of UNSC

  1. U.N. Charter: The 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council are elected by the General Assembly, with five elected in October each year, to join the five permanent and veto-wielding members of Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S.
  2. Security Council: Has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the world at large
  3. The council presidency: Rotates among the members in the English alphabetical order of their names
  4. Each president holds office for one calendar month
  5. In January 2015, Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Spain begun their two-year term
    As non-permanent UNSC members
  6. These replaced Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda

India extends UN privileges to World Bank affliate IFC

  1. News: India has extended the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947 (46 of 1947) to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its representatives and officials
  2. UN Privileges: Confers legal immunity akin to the kind enjoyed by foreign missions and diplomats
  3. IFC: One of the five affiliates of the World Bank, aims to address development challenges faced by the private sector in developing countries
  4. Other international institutions covered under the Act: International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), WHO, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), UNESCO, IMF
  5. Privileges: Exemption from all direct taxes, customs duties and prohibitions and restrictions on imports and exports in respect of articles imported or exported by the United Nations for its official use
  6. Also, immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal baggage

UN towards the protection of children in conflict zones- a background

  1. The UN Security Council in 2005 approved a resolution to identify governments and armed groups that recruit child soldiers
  2. It was the first major step to prevent the victimization of young people in war zones
  3. In 2009, the council voted to name and shame countries and insurgent groups engaged in conflicts that lead to children being killed, maimed and raped
  4. In June 205, the council voted unanimously to name and shame governments and armed groups that abduct children
  5. The latest report names nine government security forces and 51 armed groups that committed grave violations against children last year

Violations against children in conflict rose in 2015 : UN

  1. Context: The UN chief’s annual report on children and armed conflict
  2. The recruitment and killing of children in conflicts escalated last year especially in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and South Sudan
  3. Violations: Abduction of children and aerial attacks by some governments and international coalitions which killed and maimed many youngsters
  4. UN Chief called on all parties to conflicts to immediately end violations against children and take measures to prevent the recruitment, killing, abduction and sexual abuse of children caught in conflicts
  5. He warned that combatants who violate children’s rights will find themselves under scrutiny by the United Nations and stressed that accountability remains a key priority

Decision making in UNPK- a background

  1. Demand: Having greater say in the conduct of UNPK has been constant demand of several developing countries
  2. Reason: Developing nations are the major troop contributors while the decision making is done by the developed countries and the permanent five countries in the Security Council who hardly contribute any boots on the ground
  3. Article 44 of the UN Charter: Provides the mechanism for troop contributing nations to be part of discussions with UNSC members on peacekeeping
  4. However, this has been bypassed by a new mechanism adopted in 2003
  5. India had on several occasions expressed concern on the violation of these provisions
  6. India: Consistently among the top troop contributing nations for peacekeeping and as on date 7,925 Indian soldiers are serving under various U.N. missions across the globe

Nations need a say in peacekeeping, says Army chief

  1. Context: The first ever U.N. ‘Chiefs of Defence’ Conference which discussed issues concerning peace keeping
  2. Dalbir Singh: Nations contributing troops to United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions need greater say in the conduct of the missions of which they were part of
  3. This reflects the concern of several developing countries
  4. Fact check: May 29 of every year is observed as the U.N. International Day of Peacekeepers to mark the establishment of the first U.N. peacekeeping mission on May 29, 1948

40 million Indians at risk from rising sea levels: UN report

  1. Context: The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments’, a UN environment report
  2. Findings: Worst impacts of climate change will occur in pacific, south and south-east Asia
  3. By 2050, around 40 million people of India may get affected due rising sea levels, storms, cyclone
  4. It will affect India, China, Bangladesh coastal regions
  5. Reasons: Economic growth, urbanization, settlement patterns, ineffectiveness of coastal system to respond to natural disaster due to encroachment over region
  6. The report will be represented in UN environmental assembly taking place in Nairobi

PM asks UN to address challenge posed by terrorism

  1. News: PM Modi highlighted the dangers posed by terrorism to world
  2. PM Modi’s Advice: Terrorism needs to be delinked from religion, the menace posed challenge to humanity and those believing in humanity should
    collectively fight it
  3. Terrorism cannot be defeated only by guns, but an environment needs to be created in the society to ensure that the youth are not radicalised
  4. Leaders of the world will have to take the lead to curb terrorism failing which the world can see more destruction

Learn about UNEP

  1. About: Leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda
  2. Aim: Promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the UN system
  3. Serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment
  4. Founded by: Maurice Strong, its first director,
  5. Origin: United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972
  6. Headquarters: Gigiri neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya

India, China led investments in renewable energy in 2015: UN

  1. News: For the first time commitments in solar, wind and other renewables capacity by emerging economies surpassed those by wealthy nations
  2. Significance: India was also among Top 10 investing countries in renewable energy, with its commitments rising 22 per cent to USD 10.2 billion
  3. Report: ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016’
  4. By: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  5. By Developed Countries: Investments down to 8 per cent in 2015 to USD 130 billion
  6. By Developing world: This including China, India and Brazil committed a total of USD 156 billion in new renewables capacity last year, up 19 per cent from 2014

UN commissioner calls for return of land, de-militarisation in Sri Lanka

UN calls for reducing the size of the military force in the North and East to a “less intrusive” level.

  1. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Sri Lankan military
  2. To accelerate the return of lands to rightful owners and reduce its size in the Northern and Eastern provinces
  3. According to the Sri Lankan government, about 3,000 acres of land were returned since January 2015 and 2,329 families had been resettled
  4. On the level of militarisation, the size of the military force in the some provinces could be reduced to a level that is less intrusive and intimidating.
  5. On the present atmosphere of freedom and openness, UN felt that the element of fear has considerably diminished, at least in Colombo and the South

Julian Assange’s detention illegal, says UN panel

  1. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled the 3-year period of political asylum sought by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as ‘unlawful detention’.
  2. The Australian human rights campaigner, Julian Assange, was arrested in London in 2010 by Sweden on charges of sexual assault and rape.
  3. The decisions of the UN panel are not binding. However, if these decisions are not followed, it will affect the international credibility of both governments.
  4. Assange and WikiLeaks have been the subject of a secret grand jury investigation in Virginia
  5. That has been looking into whether to prosecute them over the US cable disclosures.

Let’s know about UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

UN system-wide reform of the past decade has seen the development of the cluster approach as well as new tools for humanitarian financing.

  1. Established in 1991 as an entity within the United Nations Secretariat, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
  2. It supports mobilization, funding and coordination of humanitarian action in response to complex emergencies and natural disasters.
  3. OCHA is headed by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), a position currently held by Valerie Amos.
  4. The ERC also acts as the central focal point for governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental relief activities.
  5. OCHA also manages the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – a pooled funding mechanism for UN humanitarian agencies to draw upon.

UN panel finds aid money not getting to the needy fully

The panel called for an end to competition between aid organizations and between humanitarian and development agencies.

  1. Too often only half of the money from donors is getting to the millions of people devastated by conflicts and natural disasters who desperately need humanitarian aid.
  2. The UN report said the world is spending around $25 billion to help 125 million people today.
  3. This is more than 12 times the $2 billion spent in 2000 but there is still a $15 billion annual funding gap.
  4. It warned that if the current trend continues, the cost of humanitarian assistance will rise to $50 billion by 2030.
  5. The report focuses on 3 solutions
  • Mobilizing more funds
  • Shrinking the need for aid by preventing and resolving conflicts
  • Improving the efficiency of assistance.


:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







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