United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

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  • Iran Sanctions and India: Navigating the Road Blocks

    Iran Sanctions and India: Navigating the Road Blocks

    The monograph examines UNSC, US and EU sanctions targeting Iran as a result of concerns emanating from its nuclear programme and the implications they have had for India.


    Hariom Singh asked: What are the specific arguments offered by countries particularly opposed to India's candidature for the permanent seat in the UN Security Council?

    Arpita Anant replies: It would not be appropriate to phrase the question in this manner. No country has out rightly opposed India’s candidature; though it can be assumed that Pakistan and China (and perhaps some others too) would not be particularly happy with India securing a permanent seat in the Security Council.

    A Setback for the Prospect of UN Security Council Reform!

    A Setback for the Prospect of UN Security Council Reform

    Many UN member states are of the view that text-based negotiation is the best way to take the process forward. But the US, Russia and China have refused to commit themselves to this process.

    August 17, 2015

    United Nations Security Council Reform: Perspectives and Prospects

    United Nations Security Council Reform: Perspectives and Prospects

    Over the years, the world has changed in fundamental ways. We are witnessing a resurgence of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Growth and development have not only made the countries more interdependent, but new and increasingly complex challenges have also arisen. For multilateralism to remain relevant and effective in today's world, multilateral institutions must adapt and reform to reflect contemporary geo-political realities. It is in this context that the expansion of the UN Security Council is of significance.


    UNSCR 1540: A decade of existence

    The success of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 should not make the international community overlook persisting problems. The objective of the 1540 is to internationalise WMD security by targeting the entire supply chain.

    April 28, 2014

    UNSC Vote on the Crimean Issue: Why did China Abstain?

    The reasons for abstention go far beyond the immediate issue at hand and are enveloped in deep Chinese strategic interests. The Chinese leadership is adamant that there can be no dilution of the concept of the principle of non-violation of the territorial integrity of nation states in the international system.

    March 21, 2014

    Narendra Patil asked: How will it help India if it gets a permanent seat in the Security Council?

    Satish Nambiar replies: Securing a permanent seat on the UN Security Council would be an acknowledgement of India's status not only as a founder member of the United Nations, but as a country that has worked hard over the years to promote the ideals enshrined in the UN Charter, including in the maintenance of international peace and security by the unreserved provision of peacekeepers (military, police and civilian) for various missions undertaken by the UN. It would also be an acknowledgement of the vital leadership role that India has played over the years in the non-aligned movement, and as a significant representative of the developing world in other forums. Furthermore, it would be an acknowledgement of the fact that India has an increasing role to play in the international arena in the years to come, in context of its large population, growing economic clout, a huge and attractive market, and as a military power of some significance at the regional and global level.

    Having stated that, it may be relevant to stress that such a development is not going to take place in the immediate future. For all the rhetoric their leaders and representatives indulge in, the current permanent members are not all that keen to see an increase of membership in the permanent category. And a large number of countries are active as “spoilers” in the knowledge that while they themselves have no chance of securing permanent membership on the UN Security Council, they would not like to see some other countries, who have better claims and chances, secure the permanent membership on the Council either.

    To that extent, it would be prudent not to lose any sleep over this prospect.

    Abhishek Tyagi asked: Is there any proposal currently under the consideration of the UN Security Council or the General Assembly to reform the UNSC to include India as a permanent member?

    Saurabh Mishra replies: India had initiated the Security Council reforms agenda in the late 1970s. However, it finally succeeded in pushing the agenda in the General Assembly only in 1992. Subsequently, the General Assembly, by resolution 48/26, set up the “Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council” in order “to consider all aspects” of the issue and the discussions started in 1994. Later, in December 2004, the report of the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change suggested two different models for Security Council expansion without veto powers and recommended the introduction of "indicative voting". Kofi Annan's report, “In Larger Freedom” (March 21, 2005), touched very briefly upon Security Council reforms and urged the member states to consider the models as outlined by the High Level Panel. Finally, the 62nd General Assembly established the framework of Inter-governmental Negotiations which took the job from the working group and started its discussions in 2009. It adopted a text-based negotiating document on May 10, 2010, which encompassed all proposals submitted by the membership to the Chair.

    Currently, after eight rounds of intense talks and notable progress, the Inter-governmental Negotiations are under a stalemate on a third revised negotiation draft. Though it is widely accepted that there is a fundamental need for reforms, bilateral and inter-regional rivalries are in full interplay. The process has led to “positions drifting further apart”. The text includes several models of expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories with other suggestions of new categories altogether. The disagreements revolve mainly around regional representation by the countries and the use of veto power. Apart from permanent members, there are identified groups with their own divergent initiatives in the General Assembly, namely G-4 (India, Brazil, Germany, Japan), L69, UfC (Uniting for Consensus), C-10 (Committee of ten African Permanent Representatives) GRULAC (Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries) and S-5 (Small Five-Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland).

    India as a member of G-4 tabled its own draft resolution in 2005 (which has been encircled by the current negotiation draft), calling for Security Council enlargement to 25 members—including six new members in the permanent category with two seats from Africa, two from Asia, one each from Latin America and the Caribbean, one from Western European and Others Group. It also proposed more seats for non-permanent members. In a bid for breakthrough, the Group of Four (G-4) wants some restraints in veto by all the permanent members and proposes for the use of veto power by new permanent members only after a review of 15 years.

    It is to be noted that the negotiation draft does not suggest specific countries for prospective membership. It is only to decide the nature, structure, size and powers of the Council together with regional representation and the process of the selection or election of the members. However, the governments in their statements mention support to one or the other country, including India. For instance, the United Kingdom and France have supported Germany, Brazil, Japan and India together for permanent membership.

    Rajesh Singh asked: What are the pros and cons of the idea of restructuring of the UN Security Council?

    Satish Nambiar replies: There are no pros and cons. There are only pros. The UN Security Council as presently constituted is an outdated formulation that was put in place in 1945 when the United Nations Charter was framed under the circumstances that prevailed after the end of World War II. This is particularly so in regard to the permanent membership which only included the five major powers that emerged victorious at that time, namely the USA, the USSR, France, the United Kingdom and China (formerly Nationalist China, later replaced by the PRC). It is an anachronism in the second decade of the 21st Century, almost seven decades after the signing of the UN Charter.

    The UN Security Council, as constituted today, particularly in its permanent membership, lacks credibility and legitimacy because it is not truly representative of the international community of the day. It does not have any representation in the permanent membership from Africa, that has 53 member states, or from South America; a situation that would be laughable, if it was not so serious.

    Equally, there is much to commend the induction in the permanent membership of the UN Security Council of powers like Germany and Japan that have contributed so much over the years to the work of the United Nations and continue to do so, as also of emerging powers like Brazil, South Africa and India that even today contribute, and can be expected to contribute more in the years to come.

    The cons, if any, are only conjured up by:

    • Spoilers who are aware they do not find place, but would like to prevent their adversaries from finding a permanent seat on the Council;
    • Current permanent members like France and the UK resisting change because their own positions are so fragile; and
    • The USA not probably wanting to have in the permanent membership even more opposition than at present posed on occasions by Russia and China.