United Nations Security Council

United Nations Security CouncilUnited Nations Security Council was established in 1945 after the World War II. It is one of the six principal organs of United Nations and is entrusted with ensuring international peace and security, accepting new members to the United Nations and approving changes to its charter. One of the most important responsibilities of ensuring international peace are carried out approving and conducting Peace Keep Operations and International Sanctions as well as military actions through resolutions.

The Security Council consists of fifteen members, five of these are permanent members – USA, UK, Russia, France and China, the remaining 10 members are temporary members that hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region. The main difference between the permanent and temporary members is that permanent members enjoy Veto power. Security Council decisions on all substantive matters require the affirmative votes of nine members. A negative vote or “veto” by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required votes. This gives the permanent members an undue advantage to run the affairs of United Nations Security Council.

UNSC Reforms

The victors of World War II shaped the United Nations Charter in their national interests, assigning themselves the permanent seats and associated veto power, among themselves. The Geo-political realities of the world have changed significantly since 1945 but the working and structure of Security Council has changed little. There has been clamour for reforms in the structure and working of the UNSC for a long time now. Key issues where reforms are needed include categories of membership, the ‘veto’ held by the permanent members, regional representation and size of the Council.

UN Secretary General Kofi Anan called for reforms to UNSC in 2005, in which two plans were suggested:

  • Plan A calls for creating six new permanent members, plus three new nonpermanent members for a total of 24seats in the council.
  • Plan B calls for creating eight new seats in a new class of members, who would serve for four years, subject to renewal, plus one non-permanent seat, also for a total of 24.

However, little progress has been made in this direction since any reform of the Security Council would require the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states in a vote in the General Assembly, and must be ratified by two thirds of Member States. All of the permanent members of the UNSC (which have veto rights) must also agree.

India’s Stake in UNSC

In its quest for global peace and security, India has played a leadership role in the United Nations General Assembly and in the Security Council. India has been a non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council seven times. India was one of the first countries to raise the issue of apartheid in South Africa at the United Nations and was one of the earliest signatories to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1965.

India’s nuclear doctrine at the United Nations is in consonance with its commitment to achieve global disarmament and maintain international peace and security. India stands for total nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Participation in peace keeping operations is the key element of the credentials required for Permanent Membership in the Security Council. India is also the largest contributor to UN peace keeping operations, having contributed 1, 60,000 troops to 43 of 65 of UN peace keeping operations.

As a founder Member, India views the UN as a forum that could play a crucial role to guarantee and maintain international peace and security. Its quest for strengthening peace and security has not been an easy one with new and emerging challenges. India’s bid for permanent membership of UNSC is backed by four Permanent Members of the Security Council, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States but China maintains ambivalent silent on this issue.

Recently India’s foreign Minister S. Jai Shankar in oreign policy speech at a top US think tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said “If you have… a United Nations where the most populous country in the world — may be in 15 years — with the third largest economy is not in the decision making of the United Nations, I grant you, it affects the country concerned. But I would also suggest it affects the United Nations’ credibility,”

Currently has the world’s second-largest population and is the world’s largest liberal democracy. It is also the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and third-largest by purchasing power parity. India maintains the world’s second-largest active armed force (after China) and is a nuclear-weapon state. Clearly, a seat for India would make the body more representative and democratic. With India as a member, the Council would be a more legitimate and thus a more effective body.