External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who concluded a week-long visit to the United Nations, said it would be premature to comment on positions countries, including India, are taking on the issue of whether any permanent membership for India to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) came with veto power. The Minister was speaking to the Indian press at a briefing on Saturday afternoon.
“So I think it’d be very premature to comment either on our own positions or other people’s positions at this stage,” the Minister said, adding that at this stage, the emphasis was on ensuring that there was some tangible basis to the negotiations.
India has been campaigning hard, including this past week, for a permanent seat on the Council and currently all five permanent members (the P-5) of the world’s top security body have veto rights. While a number of countries have shown support for India’s membership, including the U.S. and Russia, the question remains open, if this comes with veto rights.
“…The starting point is the need to accept that there should be reform and then the need to develop some kind of practical path towards it,” Mr. Jaishankar said in response to questions from The Hindu on the linkages between permanent membership and the veto.
At this stage the positions were not fixed and countries’ ideas would go into a “melting pot” before something emerges, the Minister said.
“It’s incredible that after so many years, there’s actually no text. So how does the negotiation advance if there is no text and no progress and no stock-taking?” Mr. Jaishankar said, adding, that India was advocating for text-based negotiations right now, to ensure that the intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) process — the principal framework via which UNSC reform is deliberated — was “serious”.
“I think there’s a growing appreciation of the need for that,” Mr. Jaishankar said. He alluded to references others had made on Security Council reform in their public remarks during the week, saying he sensed a shift in the mood on the longstanding issue that is raised every year and that others had told him they had sensed a shift too.
The American and Russian UNGA addresses contained explicit references to the issue. President of the U.N. General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi in his UNGA address last week, advocated for Security Council reform, saying it ought to reflect “21 st century realities” and “more equally” represent the world’s population.
The U.S. State Department’s spokesperson, Ned Price, however, had said last year that the U.S. was in favour of increasing the permanent and non-permanent seats on the 15-member body, but was not in favour of expanding or altering the veto. This, however, was before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Since then the veto right has been the subject of more intense scrutiny with Russia vetoing, multiple Security Council resolutions condemning and calling for an end to the invasion. India had cast an abstention vote in these cases. New Delhi has also found itself at the raw end of the veto, with China delaying the sanctioning of terrorists by the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee, including earlier this month, when it placed a hold on the proposal to add Lashkar-e-Taiba ‘commander’ Sajid Mir, wanted for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, to the sanctions list.