Context:

India assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the month of August 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions and Groupings, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. United Nations Security Council
  2. Functions and Powers of UNSC
  3. About India’s Membership and Presidency in 2021
  4. India’s Case for obtaining the UNSC Permanent Member Status:
  5. Who Backs India for a Permanent Seat in UNSC and who Doesn’t?
  6. What is the benefit to India if made a permanent member of UNSC?
  7. How does India’s Inclusion as permanent member help UNSC?

United Nations Security Council

The Security Council is one of the six main organs of the United Nations.

  • The Permanent Residence of UNSC in the UN Headquarters New York City, USA.
  • Its primary responsibility is the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter- Hence, it is the only body of the UN with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • Resolutions of the Security Council are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget.

Membership

  • It has 15 Members (5 as Permanent Members and 10 as Non- Permanent Members), and each Member has one vote.
  • The Five permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each of the Permanent Members has Veto Power over every decision of UNSC.
  • The Ten non-permanent members are Elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of ten in total) for a two-year term. The ten non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis.
  • As per the rules of procedure, a retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election and the election is held by secret ballot and there are no nominations.
  • The presidency of the Council rotates monthly, going alphabetically among member states.

Functions and Powers of UNSC

Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

  1. to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
  2. to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
  3. to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
  4. to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
  5. to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
  6. to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
  7. to take military action against an aggressor;
  8. to recommend the admission of new Members;
  9. to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;
  10. to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.

About India’s Membership and Presidency in 2021

  • India had entered the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as one of the 10 rotating non-permanent members in January 2021 and will stay on the council for two years i.e., 2021-22.
  • As part of its new role as president of the UNSC for the month of August 2021 (Rotating Presidency every month) that all 15 members get in rotation, India will decide the agenda of the UN’s highest decision-making body whose resolutions and directives are binding on all member states. India will also coordinate important meetings on a range of issues during August.
  • India is going to organise key events in three major areas of maritime security, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism.
  • Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi will be the first Indian PM to preside over a meeting of the UNSC. (PM PV Narasimha Rao attended (not presided) a UNSC meeting in 1992).
  • France has stated that it is dedicated to collaborating with India over strategic problems such as maritime security, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism.
  • Russia welcomed the country gaining the UNSC presidency saying it is very impressed by India’s agenda, which embraces critical global concerns.

India’s Case for obtaining the UNSC Permanent Member Status:

  • India joined the U.N. in 1945 (2 years before independence) and India has been an active participant in all initiatives undertaken by the UN like Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable development goals and various UN summits, including on climate change
  • In the past, India’s was offered to join the UNSC by both the superpowers, the US and the then Soviet Union in 1950 and in 1955 respectively, India denied the offer due to Cold war politics in that era.
  • Currently, there are more than 6,700 troops and police from India who have been deployed to UN peacekeeping missions, the fourth highest amongst troop-contributing countries (having almost twice the number of peacekeepers deployed on the ground by the Permanent 5 countries)
  • India has been elected for seven terms for a two-year non-permanent member seat till now.
  • India is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity and maintains the world’s second-largest active armed force (after China) and is a nuclear-weapon state.
  • India’s acquired status of a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) in May 1998 also makes India a natural claimant as a permanent member similar to the existing permanent members who are all Nuclear Weapon States.

Who Backs India for a Permanent Seat in UNSC and who Doesn’t?

  • India’s bid for permanent member of UNSC is now backed by four of the five permanent members, namely France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States.
  • On 15 April 2011, China officially expressed its support for an increased Indian role at the United Nations, without explicitly endorsing India’s Security Council ambitions.
  • A few months later, China endorsed Indian candidacy as a permanent UNSC member provided that India revokes its support for Japanese candidacy.
  • As part of the G4 nations, India is supported by Brazil, Germany, and Japan for the permanent seat.

What is the benefit to India if made a permanent member of UNSC?

  • Permanent seat in the UNSC, would provide India with the much-needed leverage to expand its geo-political and geo-economic clout globally.
  • Inclusion of India into UNSC will help in transforming its status from being a responsible stakeholder and pave the way for playing its part as one of the global rule makers.
  • Indian presence at the Security Council would ensure Indian interests are not neglected amidst the decisions of great power politics.
  • India will gain strength to act as a counterweight to China as China is growing to be a more potent rival, an emerging hegemony in Asia and an ever-increasing strategic and security concern.
  • India will gain the ability stall any possible intervention by China, a permanent member which can take action at the behest of its ally Pakistan.

How does India’s Inclusion as permanent member help UNSC?

  • India in many ways is a sui generis (unique) country, the only example in history of a billion-plus people working together in a democratic framework, hence: 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.

-Source: The Hindu

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