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United Nations Security Council

Why is it in the news?

  • More than three decades after the debate first started over fundamental reforms at the United Nations (UN), the issue appears to have resurfaced at the ongoing General Assembly session of the world body.
  • Recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Türkiye and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have expressed concerns about the Security Council’s effectiveness.

About UNSC Reforms

Reasons for Reforms

  • Changed Geopolitics: The UNSC’s composition and methods are outdated, reflecting the geopolitical realities of 1945, with little adaptation to the transformed global landscape.
  • Long-Overdue Reforms: Despite the UN’s overall membership increasing from 113 to 193, there has been no substantial change in the UNSC’s composition since 1963.
  • Inequitable Representation: Europe is overrepresented while Asia is underrepresented, with no representation for Africa and South America.
  • Legitimacy and Credibility Crisis: Stalled reform efforts and controversial interventions, like those in Libya and Syria, have undermined the UNSC’s credibility.
  • North-South Divide: The UNSC’s permanent membership reflects a North-South divide, with no African permanent members despite significant UNSC focus on Africa.
  • Emerging Global Issues: Issues like transnational threats, economic interdependence, and environmental degradation require effective multilateral negotiations, but critical decisions still rely on UNSC veto-wielding members.

Other Reasons includes

  • The five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and their veto power are criticized for being based on World War II victories.
  • Some countries, like Japan and Germany, contribute significantly to the UN budget but are not permanent members.
  • India’s claim for a permanent seat is disputed by China and Pakistan, while Latin American countries like Brazil face opposition from others in the region.
  • Africa seeks two permanent seats, but rivalries between Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt complicate the issue.
  • Proposals for “semi-permanent members” for limited terms have not gained traction.
  • Ongoing gridlock in the Security Council, exemplified by Russia’s use of the veto in conflicts like Ukraine, demonstrates its ineffectiveness.
  • Similar obstructionism affects reforms in financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF.

India’s Approach to UNSC Reforms

  • Multi-layered Strategy: India pursues a strategy involving gaining support in the UN General Assembly and minimizing resistance in the UNSC.
  • Global South Engagement: India engages with Global South forums like G77 and NAM to garner support in the UNGA, defending principles like sovereignty.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Growing strategic partnerships, economic strength, and nuclear deals with major powers favour India’s bid for UNSC permanent membership.
  • G4 Coalition: India forms the G4 coalition with Brazil, Germany, and Japan to negotiate UNSC reforms and support each other’s permanent seat aspirations.

Challenges and Delays in Reforms

  • Lack of Political Will: Changing the P5 composition requires amending the UN Charter and obtaining two-thirds General Assembly approval, which lacks political will and consensus among the P5.
  • Divergent Demands: Various member states and regional groups have conflicting demands and seek permanent membership and veto power, which the P5 resist.

Way Forward

  • UNSC reforms are crucial to uphold its legitimacy and global representation.
  • Achieving reforms requires strong political will, particularly from the P5, and consensus among all nations.
  • Despite its flaws, the UN is the only global platform for international cooperation, and letting it become ineffective would have consequences.

 Credentials for India’s bid for membership

  • Founding member of UN.
  • World’s largest democracy and both demographically and geographically holds a significant position.
  • One of the fastest growing large economies in the world.
  • One of the largest contributors to UN peace keeping missions and India suffered highest number of fatalities over the years, which is acknowledged time and again.
  • India is seen as a responsible power, which adheres to rule of law, global norms. Hence, India’s elevation will make UNSC more credible, representative.

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