India’s campaign for permanent seat at UNSC slowing down

Diplomats blame China for having quietly carried out a campaign to stop the draft resolution from acquiring speed

August 20, 2019 04:15 am | Updated 06:16 am IST - New Delhi

Despite repeated assertions of its right to a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, India’s campaign for expansion of the UNSC has slowed down, available official statements suggest.

The slow pace is visible in the fact that India’s campaign did not prompt the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to move towards the resolution for expanding the UNSC four years after the General Assembly in a landmark decision in 2015 had declared plans for the same.

Following the September 14, 2015 decision of the UNGA, the Ministry of External Affairs had stated that the negotiations for a resolution of the UNGA would begin from 2016 but initiatives on the ground narrate another tale.

India seems to have depended on the argument that it is entitled to a seat at the UNSC because of multiple factors such as population, growing economic stature and growing global responsibilities like peacekeeping.

Diplomats here suggest that a more aggressive campaign within the organs of the UN is required to push for a UNGA resolution to expand the UN Security Council.

National interest

One of the key historic reasons for India’s quest for a permanent seat at the UNSC was to ensure protection of national interest in crucial diplomatic moments when the organ takes up contentious issues such as Kashmir.

Yet, four years after the reform process received an initial boost, India stood outside as the UNSC members met for a closed meeting on Kashmir last week. In recent years, India has insisted on getting bilateral assurance from visiting heads of states and governments, but permanent member countries such as the U.K., the U.S., Russia and France have expressed support bilaterally without actively collaborating with India in the UN for expanding the council.

Frustration of the Indian diplomats at the slow movement of the process was evident in speeches delivered in meetings in various UN groups.

Delivering a joint G4 statement on behalf of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin in 2016 stated that the grouping was eager for a forward discussion.

“Our group stands ready to discuss the criteria applied to the elections and the voting process of the elections in text-based negotiations,” Syed Akbaruddin had said.

Yet recent speeches by the diplomat at the “Plenary on the Intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council” indicate internal delays and differences among members that is hindering India’s quest.

Diplomats have blamed China for having quietly carried out a campaign to stop the draft resolution from acquiring speed. Veteran diplomats have said that the latest UNSC meeting on Kashmir which was convened following an initiative from China showed that India will have to show more “stamina” to stop China from using the organ against India’s interest. The issue of expanding the UNSC and the Text Based Negotiation is expected to come up in the next UN General Assembly session in September, which will throw open a new round of multilateral diplomacy.

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