Text based negotiations regarding reforms to the UN Security Council (UNSC) will provide the basis of an important discussion when the UN resumes its 70th session. India is not only one of many countries pushing for an expansion of the UNSC – she is also vying for a permanent membership in a reformed Council.
Speaking at the UN last week, Prime Minister Modi said: “Change is necessary in the UNSC in order to maintain its relevance and credibility, as also proper representation by countries so that we are able strive for our goals more effectively.”
On Monday, the US, the UK and France reiterated their support of India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UNSC.
Spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, said that “the fact that President Obama reiterated support for India’s candidature as a permanent member is significant. Now, we need to see how the inter-governmental negotiations process advances.”
The UNSC’s primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security. The council’s five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US (G5) – are supported by ten non-permanent members who are elected for two-year terms.
Many would argue that the G5 do not adequately reflect the diversity of the world. Western Europe has two representatives whereas Africa and South America have none. India, representing approximately 1/7 of the world population, does not have a seat. The Islamic world also lacks representation.
Alok Sharma MP, Co-Chairman of Conservative Friends of India, recently said: “The world is changing and India is fast emerging as one of first amongst equals in the world order and this needs to be recognised through a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.” Co-Chairman, Ranjit Baxi, added: “India, with over 15% of the World’s population, is not only the largest democracy in the world but also a rapidly growing economy that rightfully deserves a permanent seat at the Security Council in this 70th year of the UN.”
Text based negotiations do not necessarily mean that reforms to the UNSC are close. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, recently said that reforms to the Council are a distant reality. Similarly, former Indian foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal has argued that hopeful Indians should lower their expectations.
Indian membership on the Security Council may be further away than some may think. However, continued disagreement over the nature of reforms to the UNSC may indeed reveal how badly change is needed. India has previously remarked that discussions regarding an expansion of the Security Council “cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum”.