The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its United Nations Charter. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council Resolutions. Moreover, it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
The United Nations Security Council has five permanent members; United States, China, United Kingdom, Russia and France. The Security Council’s five permanent members, 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.
India has been seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as a member of the G4, an organization composed of Brazil, Germany, Japan, and India, all who are currently seeking permanent representation. The Russian Federation, United States, United Kingdom and France support India and the other G4 countries gaining permanent seats. Pakistan opposes this along with China and China has been using the Veto power to make sure India doesn’t become a permanent member.
According to the G4 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.
Following is a list of arguments that back India’s claim for a permanent seat in the UNSC:
- Asian Member
The UNSC permanent members consist of only One Asian member, three European members and no African member. Asia is the biggest continent and seems to not have enough representation. The International Herald Tribune has stated: “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.”
- Peacekeeping Force
India is one of the largest constant contributors of troops to the United Nations Peacekeeping missions. Foreign Policy magazine states that, “India’s international identity has long been shaped by its role in U.N. peacekeeping, with more than 100,000 Indian troops having served in U.N. missions during the past 50 years. Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the U.N.’s five big powers combined.” India has 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. Former US President Barack Obama cited “India’s long history as a leading contributor to United Nations peacekeeping mission” as a reason for supporting India’s bid.
- Election to UNSC
India has been elected seven times to the UN Security Council tied with Colombia and Pakistan. Only three countries have served longer: Japan, Brazil and Argentina.
- India’s Demographics
India 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 in terms of purchasing power parity. It has the world’s second largest active armed force (after China) and is also a nuclear weapon state.
- UN Budget
India is also one of the main contributors to the United Nations regular budget.
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.
Hence, India’s battle for a permanent seat is yet far from over. Also, it is uncertain whether the demands by G4 nations will be implemented anytime soon. However, India will keep working for its aim and hopefully sometimes in the near future will earn that much deserved seat.