India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

India gets re-elected as Non-permanent Member of UNSC

Note4Students

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.

Significance

  • 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.
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