U.S. predicts clamour will ‘fizzle out'

U.S. diplomats at the United Nations believe that the clamour for Security Council reforms, including demands by India and other leading economies for permanent seats, is no more than a lot of “sound and fury'' which is likely to fizzle out because of deep divisions among them, according to secret diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks.

A cable from the U.S. mission at the UN, summarising the outcome of a meeting of the German-led group on proposed reforms — the Over-Arching Process on UNSC Reform — held on March 18, 2008, said: “It is tempting to view most UNSC reform discussions as just more sound and fury, signifying nothing.'' Sent two days after the meeting, the cable, dated March 20, 2008 (146784: confidential/noforn) highlights divisions among pro-reforms countries, pointing out that both the Africans and the UFC (Uniting for Consensus) bloc were “opposed to some or all of the drafting group's proposal.''

“None of the members of the Uniting for Consensus (UFC) bloc, which was formed to oppose the G-4 aspirants push for permanent membership, attended the German-hosted meeting,'' it says, concluding that “this latest gambit may well suffer the fate of its forebears.''

However, it warns that there are still “risks'' ahead if the campaign for “a large expansion'' of the Security Council picks up momentum, and says: “To protect the core U.S. interest of ensuring at most a modest expansion of the Council that preserves its effectiveness, we must carefully navigate the next few months to avoid that outcome, while ensuring that we do not galvanize support for a particular model because of active U.S. opposition.''

India ‘obstinate’

The cable claims that while “Japan, Brazil, and Germany seem to have effectively conceded that their aspirations for permanent UNSC membership will not be met anytime soon, and have agreed to negotiate largely on an interim UNSC expansion model,'' India “still resists this idea but may come around if a specific proposal secures significant support.” A previous cable from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi described the Indian position as “obstinate'' and “at odds'' with the emerging India-U.S. strategic relationship. The communication, dated July 10, 2006 (70814: confidential/noforn), reported that the “DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) used a July 7 meeting with MEA Additional Secretary (International Organisations) K.C. Singh to warn that India's obstinate role on UN reform was increasingly at odds with our emerging strategic partnership… and urged the Indians to reconsider their position on this issue.''

Mr. Singh, it said, replied that India occupied a “grey zone” between the smaller NAM states and the larger powers, and that its traditional role in the G-77 made it difficult for it “to appear to be jumping to do the bidding of the US.”

“Singh portrayed the GOI as a moderating force in the UN. Describing most UN member-countries as “either playing the numbers game, or being one of the big boys', he maintained that India is both, but neither at the same time,'' the cable quoted Mr. Singh as saying that the smaller UN members saw a lack of transparency in the actions of the more powerful members.

“Singh advised that the US should be more transparent in its intentions and not try to force its decisions through. In this context he welcomed further dialogue on these reform issues…'', it said.

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)