From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : UNSC, NORMS
Mains level : Significance of UNSC membership for India
India gets re-elected as Non-permanent Members of UNSC with 184 out of the 192 valid votes polled in its favour.
Practice question for mains:
Q. United Nations is in need of structural reforms suiting to the needs of present times. Discuss.
What are ‘non-permanent seats’ at the UNSC?
- The UNSC is composed of 15 members: five permanent members — China, France, Russian Federation, the US, and the UK — and 10 non-permanent members who are elected by the General Assembly.
- The non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms — so every year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members out of the total 10.
- Even if a country is a “clean slate” candidate and has been endorsed by its group, it still needs to secure the votes of two-thirds of the members present and voting at the General Assembly session — which is a minimum of 129 votes, if all 193 member states participate.
Sharing of seats
- These 10 seats are distributed among the regions of the world: five seats for African and Asian countries; one for Eastern European countries; two for Latin American and Caribbean countries; and two for Western European and Other Countries.
- Of the five seats for Africa and Asia, three are for Africa and two for Asia.
- Also, there is an informal understanding between the two groups to reserve one seat for an Arab country.
- The Africa and Asia Pacific group takes turns every two years to put up an Arab candidate.
- Elections for terms beginning in even-numbered years select two African members, and one each within Eastern Europe, the Asia Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Terms beginning in odd-numbered years consist of two West European and Other members, and one each from the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Current members as on today
- The current non-permanent members of the Security Council are Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa, all of whose terms end this year; and Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, and Vietnam, whose terms end in 2021.
- India begins its term at the beginning of 2021 and will hold the position until the end of 2022.
Has India been in the UNSC earlier?
- India’s term on the 15-member Council will be it’s eighth.
- India has earlier been a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92 and 2011-12.
- For the 2011-12 terms, India won 187 of 190 votes after Kazakhstan stood down from its candidacy.
- Unlike Africa, which has formalized a system of rotation of its three seats, the Asia Pacific grouping has often seen contests for seats. In 2018, there was a contest between the Maldives and Indonesia.
- On the occasions when there is a contest, the elections for non-permanent seats can go on for several rounds.
- Back in 1975, there was a contest between India and Pakistan, which went into eight rounds, with Pakistan finally winning the seat. And in 1996, India lost a contest to Japan.
- Terming India’s winning of a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council one of its best performances” ever, the Union government said.
- The strong support by almost the entire U.N. membership demonstrates the goodwill that India enjoys in the U.N. and the confidence that the international community has reposed in India.
- India’s EAM gave India’s overall objective during its forthcoming UNSC tenure as an acronym ‘NORMS’ — New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.
- NORMS includes the push for expanding the UNSC permanent membership.
Back2Basics: United Nations Security Council
- The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
- It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
- The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members.
- These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
- The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.