Monday, 17 February 2014

INDIA and Reformation in United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

What is United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

The UN Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.
According to the Charter, the United Nations has four purposes:
  • to maintain international peace and security
  • to develop friendly relations among nations
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.
All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. 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.

Maintaining Peace and Security

When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Council’s first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to reach agreement by peaceful means. The Council may:
  • set forth principles for such an agreement
  • undertake investigation and mediation, in some cases
  • dispatch a mission
  • appoint special envoys
  • request the Secretary-General to use his good offices to achieve a pacific settlement of the dispute.
When a dispute leads to hostilities, the Council’s primary concern is to bring them to an end as soon as possible. In that case, the Council may:
  • issue ceasefire directives that can help prevent an escalation of the conflict
  • dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force to help reduce tensions, separate opposing forces and establish a calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought.
Beyond this, the Council may opt for enforcement measures, including:
  • economic sanctions, arms embargoes, financial penalties and restrictions, and travel bans
  • severance of diplomatic relations
  • blockade
  • or even collective military action.
A chief concern is to focus action on those responsible for the policies or practices condemned by the international community, while minimizing the impact of the measures taken on other parts of the population and economy. [UNSC Website]

Structure of UNSC 

Permanent and Non Permanent Members

The Council is composed of 15 Members:

  • Five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (We will further call them P5).They have the power to "veto" any substantive resolution; this allows a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, but not to prevent or end debate.
  • Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term date):
    • 5 - Afro Asian Region
    • 2 - Western Europe
    • 1 - Eastern Europe
    • 2 - Latin America

Non Council Member States

More than 60 United Nations Member States have never been Members of the Security Council.

A State which is a Member of the United Nations but not of the Security Council may participate, without a vote, in its discussions when the Council considers that that country's interests are affected. Both Members and non-members of the United Nations, if they are parties to a dispute being considered by the Council, may be invited to take part, without a vote, in the Council's discussions; the Council sets the conditions for participation by a non-member State.

Need for a Reform in the Council


In 1945, at the time of inception UN had 55 members. And UNSC had 11 members.
Thus around 22% were members of both UN as well as UNSC.

On a contrary today, UN has 194 members. And UNSC has only 15 members.
Thus the percentage fall down to 8%.

This shows that there is a need of a reform in terms of representation of all the nations in the world.


If we look at P5, they are developed nations with an exception of China. They were the nations who won the WW II. Geographically the area they cover is less or rather there are lot of nations which do not have a direct representation in the Council which utmost requires a change.


UNSC was formed in 1945 after World War II, so while establishment a clause called "Enemy Clause" was put and the nations who lost the war were in it. Namely Italy, Japan and Germany. This clause states that the countries listed in this clause cannot ever become the member of UNSC. 

Now the times have changed, with so much development of diplomacy, there is need of a reform in this clause.

In 1945, after the war was over, INDIA was asked to join the UNSC but we declined it as the policy makers of that time felt that growth of India as a nation is much more important as it has just gained its Independence. They preferred to focus on the issues which India was going through rather than participating at World Politics.

Legal Hurdles 

  • 2/3rd majority of the UN members should pass the resolution and ratify in their respective Parliament.
  • All P5 members should agree.

Basis to become a Permanent Member in the Changed Era

  • Global weight of the Nation
    • The respective country should be able to influence the World Politics
  •  Contribution in World Peace
India fulfills both the conditions to be nominated as a Permanent Member in UNSC as it does influence the World Politics up to a great extent in Afro Asian region. India's contribution in World Peace is very well known to all the nations and it has been largest contributor of Peace Keeping Forces in various parts of the world. It is high time that P5 and other members of UN acknowledges India for its righteous demands.

Challenges Today To Bring Reforms In The Council

  • Members (Composition of the Council)

India has been elected seven times to the UN Security Council. Only three countries have served longer than that (Japan, Brazil, and Argentina), except for the Permanent Five, and Colombia has served the same amount of time.

India has been seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as a member of the G4, an organisation composed of Brazil, Germany, Japan, and India, all who are currently seeking permanent representation. According to their proposal the UN Security Council should be expanded beyond the current fifteen members to include twenty-five members. If this actually happens, it would be the first time permanent Security Council status is extended to a South Asian nation and supporters of the G4 plan suggest that this will lead to greater representation of developing nations rather than the current major powers. 

This countries makes a number of claims to justify their demand. Let us see cases for each of this nations -

  1. India
  • 1/6th Population of the World or the Second Largest Population
  • 3rd Largest Economy in terms of Purchasing Power and 10th Largest Economy in World
  • Largest Liberal Democracy
  • Nuclear Power
  • Largest Contributor of Peace Keeping Force
    • India is the largest contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions as of 2014 after Bangladesh and Pakistan, all three nations being in South Asia. India has contributed nearly 160,000 troops, the largest number from any country, participated in more than 43 missions and 156 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions. India has also provided and continues to provide eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions. 
  • Largest Contributor of Technical Members in other Organs of UN
 Major Opposition -
  • Pakistan - Primarily it believes that if India becomes a Permanent Member will Veto out Pak's all proposals. It is the one nation which specifically opposes India's candidacy.
  • China - Today China is only in P5 from the Aisa region, thus it maintains it dominance over the whole region specifically Aisa and Gulf Region. It seeks not to lose this Status.
  • Indonesia - Indonesia is the largest country in ASEAN and maintains its dominance and influences the decision of the group. It says that India is not able to take its Independent decisions or stand in various matters of World Politics. So it would be able to take sound decisions if it becomes a permanent member. Thus it believes that India is not apt to join Permanent Members of the Council. Recently India took a unbiased stand in matter of Seria which shows that India is changing its image of the nation who does not take one sided non-diplomatic decisions and stand in matters of World Politics. 

India is seeking support from G 77 (A organization formed by group of 77 small island nations) in return to represent them at the UNSC if India gets elected as the Permanent member.

      2.  Japan
  • 4th Largest Economy
  • 2nd Largest Contribution in terms of funds at UN 

It is mainly opposed by China as there are several disputes between to nations regarding property of land.

Thus, Japan, along with India, are considered the most likely candidate for two of the new permanent seats. China has stated that it was ready to support India's move for a permanent seat on the UNSC if India did not associate its bid with Japan. This may be contrary to the Indian stand since Japan and India are both members of the G4 and support each other's candidature. Japan has been elected to the Security Council for ten terms as a non-permanent member.

     3.  Germany
  • 3rd Largest Contributor to UN's Regular Budgets.

Germany has been elected to the Security Council as a non-permanent member three times as a unified state, as well as three times when it was divided (twice for the West, once for the East).

If Germany gets a Permanent seat at the council, then it would lead to Over Reformation as France and UK which already being in P5 will turn all Europe in! They would then over influence the decisions of the council. 

The better way to bring it in would be by replacing France and UK with European Union (EU). Germany being a developed nation also falls against it in this claim.

      4.  Brazil
  • Brazil is the largest country in Latin America in terms of population, GDP and land area. It has the fifth largest population, seventh largest GDP.
  • 11th largest defence budget in the world.
  • 5th largest by physical size. It is one of only five countries that ranks among the top ten globally in terms of physical size, population, and GDP – the others being the United States, Russia the People's Republic of China, and India all permanent members of the UNSC except for India, which is in G4. 
  • It has contributed troops to UN peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East. 
  • Brazil is one of the main contributors to the UN regular budget. 

Brazil has been elected ten times to the Security Council. Prior to the UN's founding in 1946, Franklin D. Roosevelt lobbied for Brazil to be included on the Security Council, but the UK and the Soviet Union refused. 

The greatest impediments to its candidacy are the regional oppositions of both Mexico and Argentina, two important countries in Latin America.

Majority population of Brazil is Portuguese  speaking, and rest of the countries in Latin America are Spanish speaking. Thus they argue that how can a Portuguese speaking nation represent a Spanish community.

  • Size of the Council

The size of the council cannot exceed some particular number of members otherwise it would become extremely difficult to take decisions within the council. 

  • Veto Power

This goes in the relation with the size of the Council. As there are more Permanent members, all of them will have Veto Power which will make it very difficult for the council to come to a consensus as someone might always Veto out proposals from different countries.

India as said that it will not take the Veto Power for first 10 years if it is elected as Permanent member at the council.

The UN Security Council reform, being debated since two decades is too long overdue and the necessary expansion must be made considering how much world has changed.