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Desharth Anshul Dwivedi asked: Will BRICS or QUAD out shadow the UNSC eventually and create alternate centres of power?

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  • Prashant Kumar Singh replies: The origin and nature of the three organisations are fundamentally different. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal bodies of the UN that was created in 1945 with a mandate for global peace, stability, development and cooperation. The UN has global commitments with the participation of countries at a global level. The UNSC is its principal agency mandated with responsibility towards international security affairs.

    On the other hand, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the QUAD (the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) are groupings created by select few countries on the basis of convergence of their developmental and strategic interests and objectives. BRICS is predominantly focussed on economic and developmental issues. Although it expresses and shares concerns about non-traditional security issues such as terrorism, it is far from being a security-strategic grouping that can out shadow the UNSC. Similarly, although the QUAD has strong underlying security-strategic logics at work, it is not visualised as a regional replacement of the UNSC. What needs to be noted is that the three organisations under the discussion signify fundamentally different processes and have fundamentally different goals and operate on fundamentally different scales.

    The world is indeed witnessing the creation of alternate centres of power. Super power domination is no longer feasible. In a world with multiple power centres, the number and the role of regional groupings concerned with security management is likely to increase only. However, the fragmentation of the international power structure makes the need for global governance, particularly in the security arena, all the more important and organs like the UNSC all the more relevant. Here, it would be apt to note that the UN system is not opposed to regional processes. Chapter VIII of the UN Charter seeks to promote UNSC's cooperation with regional organisations and arrangements. Various organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have cooperated and coordinated with the UNSC.

    Therefore, a two-prong approach should always be adhered to. First, the new groupings should be aligned with the values and principles of the UN system. Secondly, the UN agencies like the UNSC should be democratised and made truly representative. The UN system should not remain frozen in the world of 1945. Instead, it should reflect the power distribution of the present. In the absence of this, the propensity to see regional security groupings as possible replacements of the UNSC will naturally increase.

    Posted on March 22, 2021

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.