India’s Permanent Membership in UN Security Council By Gayatri Kapur from VIPS, GGSIP University, Delhi
“The united nations was not created to take humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell.”
The United Nations is an international organization that brings together its member states i.e. countries of the world. Security Council is one of its key organs the primary responsibility of which is the maintenance of international peace and security and its resolutions are binding on all member states. During the first forty-five years of its existence, the Council’s actions were restricted due to the Cold War era wherein the continuous disagreement between the United States and the Soviet Union made Security Council an ineffective institution, but since 1990 with the growth of the global political climate, it has been very active.
The Security Council consists of fifteen member States, five of which are permanent members, which are The United States, The United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China. The permanent members have the power to ‘veto’, i.e. they can turn a substantive decision of the Council by voting against it. The Security Council along with General Assembly decides on the name of new secretaries-general, new State members of the UN, and it elects judges to the International Court of Justice.
The members who are currently enjoying the privilege of being the permanent members of UNSC are due to the power structure that existed at the end of Second World War.
We are aware of the damage created by the war. During the war, the world was divided and this division helped these super powers in securing a seat as the permanent members of UNSC. Permanent members were chosen based on which side they were on and not necessarily economic power. The Permanent Five members of the UNSC were victorious ones in the war. The nations which got defeated were specifically excluded from this power structure. India, then a colony, was excluded because Britain was its ruler.
The current argument regarding UNSC permanent membership is that since the current geopolitical scenario is very different from the time when the council was originally created, the procedure of appointing permanent members should also be amended. Many new countries got independence after the establishment of the council, which was not free at the time when the council was set up.
Why there is a race between countries for permanent membership at UNSC?
Any country or for that matter India would want a permanent membership firstly because of the veto power, which India could use to defend its interests against neighbours like Pakistan. Secondly, because of the sheer prestige attached with being a permanent member of UNSC.
Why should India get a position in top 5 members of UNSC?
India has always been a peaceful nation. It consistently opposes aggressions and has defended the sovereignty of the states. India is the largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO), with nearly 180,000 troops serving in 44 missions since it was established. India is also among the highest financial contributors to the UN, with the country making regular donations to several UN organs like the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF). Further, India represents around 1/6th of the world population and is the largest democracy. India was the pioneer of the Non-Aligned movement when the two super-powers were forcing the countries across the world to join their side in the cold war.
What are the Challenges before India?
As things stand today, India is a middling power economically, with a national GDP of around $2 trillion. All the current permanent members of the UNSC, barring Russia, are bigger than India economically, with the US at $17.4 trillion, China at $10.3 trillion, the UK at $2.9 trillion, and France at $2.8 trillion. After the breakup of the USSR, the Russian Federation has fallen below India at $1.8 trillion. It is the only one deserving of replacement right now. On the other hand, the countries which are in a race with India for getting permanent membership like Germany, Japan and Brazil have economies bigger than India.
India’s claim for permanent membership is a bona fide demand. India is the least controversial option to add as a permanent member. Keeping in mind the current political scenario, mere population size is not enough to ensure a seat at the high table, if India wants to secure a permanent seat at UNSC; it has to focus on inclusive growth which will enhance the respect enjoyed by her.
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