India has been in the UNSC for 14 years, representing roughly a fifth of the time the United Nations (UN) has existed. India must leverage this latest opportunity to project itself as a responsible nation. It needs not only to promote its own people’s prosperity, but also regional and global security and growth, and a rule-based world order. It could emerge a partner of choice for developing and developed countries alike.
India singular objectives as UNSC member are as follows-
1. India finds itself in a troubled region between West and East Asia, a region bristling with insurgencies, terrorism, human and narcotics trafficking, and great power rivalries.
2. The turbulence in West Asia is echoed in North and South Asia, a consequence of the nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
3. Afghanistan’s slow but unmistakable unravelling from the support, sustenance and sanctuary provided in its contiguity to groups such as the Haqqani network, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.
4. Other problems in Asia include strategic mistrust or misperception, unresolved borders and territorial disputes, the absence of a pan-Asia security architecture, and competition over energy and strategic minerals.
5. The “national interest” had acquired almost a pejorative connotation. Fear, populism, polarisation, and ultra-nationalism have become the basis of politics in many countries.
6. The world has been distracted from its shared goals, especially international social and economic cooperation. To this end, the permanent members (P-5) as also other UN members must consider it worth their while to reform the Council.
India today needs a broad and comprehensive approach to help build a stable and secure external environment are as follows-
1. First, as a member of the UNSC, India must help guide the Council away from the perils of invoking the principles of humanitarian interventionism or ‘Responsibility to Protect’. Given the fragile and complex international system, which can become even more unpredictable and conflictual, India should work towards a rules-based global order. Sustainable development and promoting peoples’ welfare should become its new drivers.
2. Second, India should push to ensure that the UNSC Sanctions Committee targets all those individuals and entities warranting sanctions. Multilateral action by the UNSC has not been possible because of narrowly defined national interest. As on May 2019, 260 individuals and 84 entities are subject to UN sanctions.
3. Third, having good relations with all the great powers, India must lead the way by pursuing inclusion, the rule of law, constitutionalism, and rational internationalism. India should become a consensus-builder, instead of the outlier it has progressively
4. A harmonised response is the sine qua non for dealing with global problems of climate change, disarmament, terrorism, trade, and development.
5. India could take on larger burdens to maintain global public goods and build new regional public goods. For example, India should take the lead in activating the UNSC’s Military Staff Committee, which was never set into motion following the UN’s inception. Without it, the UNSC’s collective security and conflict-resolution roles will continue to remain limited.
India cannot stride the global stage with confidence in the absence of stable relations with its neighbours. Besides whatever else is done within the UN and the UNSC, India must lift its game in South Asia and its larger neighbourhood. India has a strong motive to embrace polycentrism, which is anathema to hegemonic powers intent on carving out their exclusive spheres of influence.