Why does India deserve a permanent seat at UNSC?

UNSC (United Nations Security Council) was established by the United Nations charter in 1945, the Security Council has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. All P5 (USA, UK, Russia, China, and France) countries are the countries that have won the second world war. India is not one of the major powers that have won the second world war. The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN).

It is charged with ensuring international peace and security, accepting new members to the United Nations, and approving any changes to its charter. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions. It is the only body of the United Nations with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

The structure of the United Nations Security Council consists of fifteen members: 10 non-permanent and 5 permanents. 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 has been calling for the reform of the UN Security Council along with Brazil, Germany, and Japan for long, emphasizing that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.

India has ‘smart power’ which combines both hard power as well as soft power. There are many reasons which insist that India should be in United Nations Security Council as a permanent member.

India has become a major player not only in Asia but also in the world. The UN Security Council would be a more representative body if India gets a permanent member at UNSC. First, India has shown its capabilities in 1971 when Bangladesh was helped by India in free from the clutches of authoritarian Pakistan establishment. Second, India has played a significant role in ensuring peace during Sri Lankan civil war. India has sent an Indian peacekeeping force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka to ensure peace. Third, during Rajiv Gandhi India has sent 1,600 troops to aid the Maldivian government under operation ‘cactus’ to save the Maldives from a coup. 

India’s effective response to terrorism is showing that India is capable to tackle the world’s challenges if responsibilities are given to India. Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, in an aerial surgical strike, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) terror-training camp in Balakot in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without any harm to civilians and military causalities. It shows that India is capable to respond quickly and precisely. Earlier India has conducted surgical strikes in 2015 in Myanmar against the insurgent groups and in 2016 in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir against terror launch pads along the line of control.

Apart from the hard power, India has been engaged in capacity-building programs all across the world. India’s efforts in Afghanistan have been very peaceful and focused on a capacity building programs. India has built a parliament in Afghanistan which is a sign of a democratic spirit. India has built a library for its students and many more. India has been working in Afghanistan for capacity building rather than supplying weapons or supporting non-state actors. India has pledged over $ 2 billion in aid to Afghanistan. India is particularly active in the construction, infrastructure, human capital building, and mining sectors.

Like Afghanistan, India has been engaged in the neighboring country also, for peace and stability in the region. For Nepal, the Government of India agrees to double the number of Indian scholarships for Nepalese students and to supply 25,000 metric tons of fertilizers to Nepal at subsidized prices. For the Maldives, India announced a financial assistance package of $1.4 billion for Maldives in the form of budgetary support to fulfill socio-economic development programs. Along with Asia, India has been engaged in developing African countries jointly with China.

Apart from hard and soft power, India has been actively engaging in ensuring world peace. As of August 2019, India is the fourth biggest contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission nearly 7.5K soldiers after Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Rwanda. India has participated in more than 49 missions and 168 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions. Indian soldiers were made supreme sacrifice including the sacrifice of their life for UN missions. India has been awarded the Dag Hammarskjold award for this. The first time the UN deployed an all-women peacekeeping unit was in 2007 when an Indian police unit made up of 105 women was stationed in Liberia. It shows that India is committed to peacebuilding and gender quality.

In space technology development there is not much difference between India and P5 countries. In 2017, India’s space agency has successfully launched record-breaking 104 satellites which have also included satellites from other countries into orbit by a single rocket. It shows India’s assisting nature in the field of space technology to the world. In fact, India is leading in terms of space development in the world. Chandrayaan-1 confirmed the presence of lunar water. India has tried to reach the moon again through Chandrayaan-2. Under mission shakti, India has become the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to acquire the capability of space warfare by developing anti-satellite weapons.

India is also planning to send Indian astronauts into space by 2022 when India celebrates her 75th year of Independence by Ganganyan Mission. India is leading in the world in terms of hard power, soft power, space technology, military, economy, and demographic dividend. India is the second-largest population in the world after China. India is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Its democratic spirit will help to promote free and fair representation in the world. India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Indian armed forces are second largest after China. All P5 countries (Permanent members) have nuclear weapons. India too has nuclear weapons making it a nuclear power. Thus, India needs to be represented to make UNSC more representative and effective.

However, there are many obstacles for India in the way of getting a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council which is opposing India’s bid.

India’s UNSC permanent seat is primarily opposed by China. Chinese policy has been to contain India. That is also a reason why China is closer to Pakistan. CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) means and containing India is the end of the foreign policy of China in South Asia. It is so because one of the biggest powers in south Asia which can challenge Chinese hegemony in India. To appease Pakistan, it is expected that China will use the veto against India for a permanent seat at United Nations Security Council.

The five permanent members themselves don’t want anyone to come on board with them. The world has no evidence in history where countries have given up such a status quo on their own. Thus, P5 countries (Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States) would not like to share this special power with anyone. Less members in UNSC, fewer complications for them in decision making. However, four countries (the USA, UK, France & Russia) are openly supporting India’s bid for a permanent seat at UNSC because they are assured that China would definitely veto India’s bid, otherwise they won’t.

Rise of fora like G4 (India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan) to pressurize the UNSC has adversely affected India’s bid. It has created more complications. All four countries have respective adversaries. Earlier there was only one adversary for India i.e. China. But, in the bundle of G4 grouping three more adversaries have come to the fore. Brazil is opposed by Mexico, Germany is opposed by Italy and Japan is opposed by China. In 1995, Italy along with Pakistan, Mexico, and Egypt have formed the “Coffee Club“. The aim of this club is to counter the bids for permanent seats by countries such as Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan or G4 countries. In 2011, there were 120 member states that opposed the G4 membership in UNSC.

Four out of five P5 countries (USA, UK, France, and Russia) have supported India’s bid for permanent membership in UNSC. African Union as a whole supports India’s permanent membership. Many other countries like Nepal, Afghanistan, Chile, Greece, Bhutan, Myanmar, Malaysia, etc are explicitly supporting India’s bid for permanent membership. I think India should have not gone for alliances like (G4) unnecessarily to create more adversaries. Instead of it, India should work in a manner to gain the confidence of the world. India has limited itself by aligning with G4 group. We must not forget PM Modi’s words given at Shangri-La dialogue that country which sides the principles, not the country, gets more respect in the world.

US must also work to support India to include in UNSC as a permanent member because their interest is also vested in it. First, US hegemony is being challenged by China and promised to take over by 2050. In order to save US hegemony, the USA has to support not only voting but also lobbying all over the world. To contain China only India can help the USA and it will be possible practically only when India gets a permanent seat at UNSC. India and the US both have shared interests and values. Both countries are democratic. Thus, India needs to be supported by all democratic countries including the USA.

However, naturally, UNSC needs to be reformed otherwise it will become irrelevant after some time. First, it is criticized as undemocratic since the majority of views are undermined by a single veto. P5 countries are exercising this power in a biased manner. For example, China was using veto against India’s move to designate Masood Azhar as a terrorist. China was doing so to appease Pakistan for its CPEC and other vested interests in Balochistan. It is expected from P5 countries to act in an unbiased manner.

Second, UNSC has not been uniformly represented. The regions like East Asia, South America, Africa have no representation in the permanent membership of the council. Third, UNSC is not on par with current times. The situation of 1945 and 2019 is totally different. India is not so weak as it was in 1945 and UK is not so strong as it was in 1945. Thus, restructuring of UNSC is a need of time.

India must also work sufficiently in this area to fulfill its requirement. There are some sets of conditions to get a permanent seat at UNSC. First, Nation must be an emerging economy and it must contribute in global trade. Second, Human right violation must be minimum. Third, it must be free from disputes from other countries. Fourth, the nation must contribute to the united nation’ peacekeeping mission. Fifth, the majority must pass the bidding for the UNSC membership.

India has achieved many of the conditions. But India has to work more against Human rights violations in Northeastern states and Kashmir. India must also try to resolve the border disputes with Pakistan and China on the line of the successful India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement 2015 to make its claim for a permanent seat at UNSC more effectively.

 

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