India set to begin its two-year tenure as non-permanent member of UNSC

India will sit in the 15-nation UNSC for the 2021-22 term as a non-permanent member — the eighth time that the country has had a seat on the powerful horseshoe table.

January 01, 2021 04:33 pm | Updated 04:35 pm IST - United Nations

File photo of a UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York.

File photo of a UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York.

India will begin its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1.

India will sit in the 15-nation UNSC for the 2021-22 term as a non-permanent member — the eighth time that the country has had a seat on the powerful horseshoe table.

On January 1, India, Norway, Kenya, Ireland and Mexico will join non-permanent members Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam and the five permanent members China, France, Russia, U.K. and the U.S.

India will be UNSC President in August 2021 and will preside over the council again for a month in 2022.

The presidency of the council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the member states’ names. “As the largest democracy…we will be promoting very fundamental values like democracy, human rights and development,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti told PTI .

‘Let diversity flourish’

India’s message will also be to ensure “how do we let diversity flourish in a united framework, which is in many ways the United Nations itself. This is something which India as a country, as what it stands for, will take to the council.”

Mr. Tirumurti said India will “definitely” emphasise on a greater need for cooperation in the council, where “because of paralysis of decision making, urgent requirements do not get properly focused”.

“We would like to have a more cooperative structure in which we genuinely look out and find solutions and go beyond the rhetoric,” the envoy said.

India will also underscore the importance of respect for rule of law and international law.

“The current multilateralism is not factoring in multipolarity. When you have a structure, which is able to accommodate the multipolarity in a multilateral framework, then automatically (there is) a more responsive, more rule-bound and more inclusive process,” he said, adding that this will lead to reform in the multilateral system.

“Broadly, these are some messages we will carry in various degrees…We will be a country which will reinforce multilateralism. That would be the biggest strength of India in many ways when it gets into the Security Council,” he said.

Mr. Tirumurti has outlined counter-terrorism; peacekeeping; maritime security; reformed multilateralism; technology; women, youth and developmental issues, especially in the context of peace-building, as India’s priorities for the UNSC tenure.

“I feel India’’s presence in the Security Council is needed at this juncture when there are deep fissures between P-5 themselves and also between other countries. The UN is losing coherence and we hope to bring this back by focusing on issues of priority to all member states,” Mr. Tirumurti said.

India has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the council. On the long-delayed UNSC reforms, Mr. Tirumurti said hardly any progress was made in the last decade. “Not a single thing has moved. Is this the type of process we want or can we collectively come to a slightly better process which will yield results,” he asked.

He underlined that it was time for a “genuine process” wherein member states work with a single text for negotiations.

Mr. Tirumurti also said that in the last few months, he had tried to define India’s interests a “bit more sharply”, including on the question of terrorism. “We have asked for terrorism to be pursued with a single-minded determination and not make excuses,” the Indian envoy said.

‘Strong voice for developing world’

Mr. Tirumurti emphasised that India would be a strong voice for the developing world in the UNSC.

Citing the example of issues related to Africa, including peacekeeping mandates, he said, “India has always maintained that Africa should have a say in decisions pertaining to it and not have other countries alone decide.” Similarly, “if Afghanistan wants a peace process, let Afghanistan have a say in it. We will be a country which will stand up for developing countries.”

Addressing the virtual high-level General Assembly session in September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that as a Security Council member, India will not hesitate to raise its voice against enemies of humanity, including terrorism, and will speak in support of peace, security and prosperity.

Mr. Modi had asserted that reform in the responses, processes and in the very character of the United Nations was the “need of the hour” as he questioned, “for how long will India, the world’s largest democracy and home to 1.3 billion people, be kept out of the decision-making structures of the UN.”

India, the endorsed candidate from the Asia-Pacific States, won 184 votes out of the 192 ballots cast in the elections in June for the five non-permanent seats of the Security Council.

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