India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

In an uncertain world a seat at the UNSC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : Paper 2- India as non-permanent member of the UNSC

As a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the next two years, India will have to navigate through a tumultuous world. Anti-terrorism will be top priority for India.

India at UNSC

  • India will be back in the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021.
  • Two-year term will be a critical time in the history of the UN.
  • It is hoped that by then COVID-19 will have subsided, a U.S. President will have been elected.
  • And the contours of a new world order may have emerged.

How elections take place

  • The basic contest for the non-permanent seats takes place in the respective regional groups and their sub-groups.
  • Voting in the General Assembly is to fulfil the requirement of countries having to secure a two-thirds majority of the member states.
  • But regional endorsement is becoming difficult.
  • Last time, it was Kazakhstan which vacated the place for India.
  • This time, it was Afghanistan. India could not have got the endorsement without such gestures from friendly countries.

What will be India’s priorities as a member of UNSC

  • India will continue to provide leadership and a new orientation for a reformed multilateral system.
  • How far the UN will be able to reform itself in the new situation remains uncertain.
  • The UN did not succeed in either defining terrorism or in adopting the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
  • Counter-terrorism will be one of the highest priorities for India at the UNSC.

Permanent member of India issue

  • India’s election as a non-permanent member has understandably ignited the hope that its quest for permanent membership.
  • Nothing is farther from the truth.
  • Seeking to amend the Charter to add new permanent members is difficult task.
  • None of the proposals has the possibility of securing two-thirds majority of the General Assembly and the votes of the five permanent members.
  • A majority of the UN members are against the privileges of the permanent members, particularly the veto.
  • India’s performance in the Council will not lead to its elevation to permanent membership as the opposition to any expansion is not India-specific.

Role of India as non-permanent member

  • The non-permanent members have a collective veto over every resolution in the Council.
  • As a part of collective veto, India will have a higher profile at the UN for the next two years
  • Permanent members can prevent the adoption of resolutions by themselves through veto.
  • But they need at least nine votes to get a resolution passed.
  • India will also have a rare peep into the consultations chamber of the UNSC, which is closed to non-members of the Council.
  • India will get involved in many issues in which it may not have any direct interest.
  • Since India does not have a veto, it shall have to proceed cautiously not to offend anyone.

Consider the question “India has been chosen as the non-permanent member of the UNSC and will be there at the critical time in the history of the UNSC. What should be India’s priority and approach as a member of the UNSC?”

Conclusion

India’s mission in New York has earned a reputation that it is next only to the permanent members in influence. But whether it will be able to deal with traditional challenges in novel ways will depend on the turns and twists in an uncertain world.

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.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

India launches campaign brochure for UNSC seat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : Significance of UNSC membership for India

India has launched its campaign brochure ahead of elections for five non-permanent members of UNSC.

Practice question for mains:

Q. By any calculus, India will qualify for UNSC permanent seat. Analyse.

India’s agenda for UNSC

The normal process of international governance has been under increasing strain as frictions have increased. Traditional and non-traditional security challenges continue to grow unchecked. India will highlight:

  • International terrorism
  • UN reforms and Security Council expansion, and
  • Streamlining the world body’s peacekeeping operations
  • Various technological initiatives

India and UNSC

  • India is guaranteed a place in the UNSC as it is the sole candidate for Asia-Pacific but needs two-thirds of the 193-member General Assembly to vote in its favour in a secret ballot scheduled this month in New York.
  • While India is expected to sail through with the 129 votes required for the seat, the government is setting its sights on much higher numbers than that ahead of the election.
  • In 2010, when India stood for the UNSC seat of 2011-2012, it won 187 of the 190 votes polled.

Streamlining new NORMS

  • This will be the eighth time India will occupy a non-permanent UNSC seat, with its last stint in 2011-2012.
  • India’s overall objective during this tenure in the UN Security Council will be the achievement of N.O.R.M.S: a New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.

Non-permanent membership  isn’t a cup of tea

  • The government launched its plan for the UNSC seat as far back as 2013, officials said, with a keen eye on 2021, and the year that will mark its 75th year of Independence.
  • To our good fortune, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan agreed, in a gesture to our friendship, to step aside for the 2021-22 seats.
  • The next big challenge was to pursue the Asia-Pacific grouping nomination without any last-minute contenders being propped up against India.
  • While diplomacy between capitals certainly helps, the vote had to be tied down by negotiations on the ground.
  • India was able to win a unanimous endorsement from the 55-nation grouping that included both China and Pakistan, in June 2019.

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.

Also read:

India’s Bid to United Nations Permanent Seat

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Permanent Missions to the UN

Mains level : Terms of reference for the mission

Syed Akbaruddin, a fiery spokesperson, who is credited with effectively presenting India’s position on a range of crucial issues at the UN headquarters in New York for the last several years, has retired. A 1985-batch IFS officer T S Tirumurti, currently serving as Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs will succeed him.

Permanent Missions to the United Nations

  • The Permanent Mission is the diplomatic mission that every member state deputies to the UN, and is headed by a Permanent Representative, who is also referred to as the “UN ambassador”.
  • Article 1 (7) of the Vienna Convention on the Representation of States provides for a permanent mission.
  • UN Permanent Representatives are assigned to the UN headquarters in New York City, and can also be appointed to other UN offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.
  • The Mission in New York is housed in a 27-story building designed by the noted architect Charles Correa in 1993 and is decorated with MF Hussain paintings.

The Indian Permanent Mission at the UN

  • According to the website of the Permanent Mission of India in New York, there are currently eight Indians in senior leadership positions at the UN at the levels of Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General.
  • The first Indian delegates at the UN included statesman Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, and freedom fighters Hansa Mehta, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, and Lakshmi Menon.
  • Mehta and Pandit were among the 15 women members of the Indian Constituent Assembly.
  • India was among the select members of the United Nations that signed the United Nations Declaration at Washington on January 1, 1942.
  • India also participated in the historic UN Conference of International Organization at San Francisco from April 25 to June 26, 1945.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

[op-ed snap] About time India got a seat at the high table

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : India's entry to UNSC

Context

Prime Minister called upon all like-minded nations to push for an overhaul of the United Nations (UN) structure. 

Need for reforms

    • Misused by some members – The UN is being used by some members as a tool rather than an institution to resolve global conflicts. 
    • Losing relevance – It formed in 1945 after World War II with that war’s victors, the US, Russia, the UK, France, and China, as permanent members of its Security Council. For decades afterward, the Big Five exercised disproportionate clout in world affairs due to their nuclear arsenals. This is no longer so. 
    • Need other veto holders – If contemporary geopolitical realities are to be taken into account, then the Council needs to induct other countries as veto holders as well. 
    • The power matrix remains the same – the UN’s apex decision-making unit has remained stuck in time. Such structural deficiencies have rendered the UN largely ineffective on matters of war and peace. 

Signs of losing authority

    • 2003 Iraq war – The most glaring sign of the UN’s lost authority was the US’s 2003 offensive against Iraq in response to the 9/11 attacks. This campaign did not have any UN sanctions, nor was it sought, unlike America’s previous strikes. 
    • Unilateral powers – Since then, unilateral military actions by major world powers gained a measure of legitimacy. The idea of the Council working out solutions to international problems has turned anachronistic.
    • Reduced multilateralism – open disregard for multilateral deliberations has reduced the UN to a talk shop. 
    • Asian century – As the American century gives way to an Asian one, it’s more crucial that the UN regains the stature needed to act as a force for peace.

A strong case for India

    • Economy – India is a rapidly emerging economy. It provides large numbers of soldiers to the UN for peacekeeping missions and is armed with nuclear weapons, for which it has a clear no-first-use policy stated upfront. 
    • Population – India accounts for almost one-fifth of all humanity. 

Challenges to entry

    • Nuclear power – Nuclear hyphenation with Pakistan has been a stumbling block. Pakistan’s ties with Beijing make this hyphenation hard to remove. 

Way ahead

    • India’s market potential could change how strongly other nations rally to India’s cause. 
    • Realpolitik may determine the eventual outcome of structural reform.
    • India could do with a better record of conflict resolution.
    • A country of our strength and diversity simply cannot be left out of the power matrix for much longer.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

Germany certain to win UN council seat, but contest in Asia

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSC, Countries elected (mark on map)

Mains level: India’s claim for a permanent seat at UNSC and hurdles in it


UNSC elections

  1. Germany and Belgium are certain to win seats on the U.N. Security Council after Israel dropped out of the race last month
  2. The Maldives, a small island nation that has never been on the U.N.’s most powerful body, was vying for a seat against Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, which has served on the council three times

UNSC structure

  1. The Security Council has five permanent members the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France
  2. 10 members are elected by the 193-member General Assembly for two-year terms
  3. Five countries are elected every year by secret ballot

Uncontested slates

  1. Candidates for non-permanent seats are chosen by regional groups
  2. The only contested race this year is for the Asia-Pacific group’s seat
  3. The other regions have uncontested slates, and their candidates are virtually assured of victory for two-year terms
  4. These are:
  • Belgium and Germany for the Western European and Others group of nations
  • South Africa for the Africa group
  • The Dominican Republic for the Latin America and Caribbean group

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

India wins elections to key U.N. subsidiary bodies

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations, Commission on Population and Development, Commission for Social Development, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), UN-Women

Mains level: India holding key positions at international organizations and its impacts


Election to crucial committee

  1. India has won an election to a crucial non-governmental organization committee in the United Nations
  2. It also got elected by acclamation to other subsidiary bodies in five separate polls

About the election

  1. The U.N.’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held elections to a number of its subsidiary bodies in United Nations
  2. The Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations is a standing committee of ECOSOC
  3. Its main tasks include consideration of applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOs and consideration of quadrennial reports submitted by NGOs in General and Special categories

Commission on Population and Development

  1. India was also elected by acclamation to the Commission on Population and Development for a term beginning April 16, 2018, and expiring in 2021
  2. Under its terms of reference, the Commission is to assist the Council by arranging for studies and advising the Council on population issues and trends, integrating population and development strategies and population and related development policies and programmes

Commission for Social Development

  1. The Council elected India and Kuwait (Asia-Pacific States) by acclamation to the Commission for Social Development, filling outstanding seats for a four-year term
  2. The Commission’s purpose was to advise ECOSOC on social policies of a general character and, in particular, on all matters in the social field not covered by the specialized inter-governmental agencies

Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

  1. India was among the 17 members elected by acclamation to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
  2. The Commission acts as the principal policymaking body of the U.N. in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice
  3. Its mandate includes improving international action to combat national and transnational crime and the efficiency and fairness of criminal justice administration systems

Executive Board

  1. India was among 14 nations elected by acclamation by the Council to the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

UN-Women

  1. For the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the Council elected by acclamation 16 members, including India

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

UN security council: ‘US supports India’s bid for permanent membership’

  1. US Permanent Representative to UN, Samantha Power, expressed US government’s support for India’s bid to become a permanent member at a reformed UNSC.
  2. She favours increased consultations between peacekeeper troopcontributing countries and UNSC.
  3. UN is going to take a call on the renewal of the mandate of some of peacekeepers.
  4. US strongly advocates efforts to institute periodic assessment of troops deployment in peacekeeping missions.

Reiterating support for India’s quest to enter the elite club, Power said, “Let me affirm that we support a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.”

  1. US Permanent Representative to UN, Samantha Power, expressed US government’s support for India’s bid to become a permanent member at a reformed UNSC.
  2. She favours increased consultations between peacekeeper troop-contributing countries and UNSC.
  3. UN is going to take a call on the renewal of the mandate of some of peacekeepers.
  4. US strongly advocates efforts to institute periodic assessment of troops deployment in peacekeeping missions.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

Time for G4 leaders to assert themselves

  1. G4 hope has increased with the shift to text-based negotiations, as it will bring more clarity on the respective positions of countries.
  2. There are many opponents to the expansion of the UNSC, but the most vociferous of them are China and Pakistan.
  3. The G4 took shape in 2004 when leaders of all the 4 countries issued a joint statement, kicking off their campaign for U.N. reforms.
  4. Since 2008, the U.N.’s Inter-Governmental Negotiations have been negotiating text for U.N. reforms.
  1. There is increasing hope among G4 members with the negotiations now moving to a text-based one, which will bring more clarity on the respective positions of countries.
  2. There are many opponents to the expansion of the UNSC, but the most vociferous of them are China and Pakistan.
  3. The G4 took shape in 2004 when leaders of all the 4 countries issued a joint statement, kicking off their campaign for U.N. reforms.
  4. Since 2008, the U.N.’s Inter-Governmental Negotiations have been negotiating text for U.N. reforms.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

UNSC reforms: ‘Historic’, ‘pathbreaking’ for India

  1. India is a strong contender for a permanent UN seat if the Security Council gets expanded,one of the most significant reforms being discussed.
  2. 70th session of the UN General Assembly chose the path of text-based negotiations for carrying out Security Council reforms and, for this purpose, adopted a negotiating text by consensus.
  3. Security Council,the top decision-making body, which has 15 members including five permanent members – China, Russia, the US, the UK and France.
  1. India is a strong contender for a permanent UN seat if the Security Council gets expanded,one of the most significant reforms being discussed.
  2. 70th session of the UN General Assembly chose the path of text-based negotiations for carrying out Security Council reforms and, for this purpose, adopted a negotiating text by consensus.
  3. Security Council,the top decision-making body, which has 15 members including five permanent members – China, Russia, the US, the UK and France.
  4. US and Russia have been supporting India’s bid, China has been against any expansion of the Security Council.
  5. Once the draft is agreed upon by the UN member countries, it will be put to vote at the General Assembly, where a two-thirds vote is needed to pass it.

Why is it important to become a permanent member of Security council?

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

India bid for permanent seat suffers blow

  1. US, Russia, China oppose UNSC reform talks which could have set a dialogue in motion.
  2. US remains opposed to “any alteration or expansion of the veto”.
  3. India received support from France and the UK, the two remaining permanent members of Security Council.
  1. US, Russia, China oppose UNSC reform talks which could have set a dialogue in motion.
  2. US remains opposed to “any alteration or expansion of the veto”.
  3. India received support from France and the UK, the two remaining permanent members of Security Council.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

‘Support our bid for a permanent UNSC seat’: India to China

  1. India has 2 major expectations from China (among other things) –
  2. Wants to become a member of the 44-nation NSG which controls the civil nuclear technology trade regime.
  3. Wants China to back its bid for a permanent seat in a reformed U.N. Security Council.

India has 2 major expectations from China (among other things):

  1. Wants to become a member of the 44-nation NSG which controls the civil nuclear technology trade regime.
  2. Wants China to back its bid for a permanent seat in a reformed U.N. Security Council.

India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

Obama endorses India for UNSC seat

  1. Five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  2. Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly with term ending date: Angola (2016), Chad (2015), Chile (2015), Jordan (2015), Lithuania (2015), Malaysia (2016), New Zealand (2016), Nigeria (2015), Spain (2016), Venezuela (2016).

Discuss: How imp. is it for India to join UNSC? Who is not in our favour?

  1. Five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  2. Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly with term ending date: Angola (2016), Chad (2015), Chile (2015), Jordan (2015), Lithuania (2015), Malaysia (2016), New Zealand (2016), Nigeria (2015), Spain (2016), Venezuela (2016).

How imp. is it for India to join UNSC? Who is not in our favour?

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