Much-needed reform

The move by the United States to oppose any large-scale reforms in the United Nations Security Council does not match the promise President Barack Obama made to India, that it would >back New Delhi’s candidacy for a permanent seat at the global decision-making body. Though U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma later >said his country remained committed to its promise, Washington’s policy towards UNSC reforms still lacks clarity. If the U.S. is keen on reforming the Council, why did it, in the first place, team up with Russia and China to oppose negotiations on reforms? And the assertion by these countries that the prerogatives, including the veto power, of the existing permanent members should remain intact even if there are reforms, is tantamount to pre-empting any major reform. The UNSC, created in the post-War context, doesn’t actually reflect the changes that have occurred in the international system after the end of the Cold War. In a quarter century, the global economic architecture has undergone massive changes. The developing nations, including India, now play a bigger role in international affairs. But within the UN, the five permanent veto-wielding members still effectively take all the crucial decisions. The Indian position is that this “democracy deficit in the UN prevents effective multilateralism” in the global arena. The way the UNSC handled — or failed to handle — some of the recent crises would underscore the soundness of the Indian position. Take the examples of Libya and Syria. While the western nations are accused of distorting the UNSC mandate in Libya, the Security Council failed to reach a consensus on how the Syrian crisis may be resolved. This clearly points to a worsening institutional crisis within the UNSC.

Meaningful reform of the Council to make it more representative and democratic would strengthen the UN to address the challenges of a changing world more effectively. India’s demand for a permanent seat has to be looked into, duly considering the merits of the case. It is the world’s largest democracy and Asia’s third largest economy. The Indian Army is the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission since the inception of the mission. More important, India’s foreign policy has historically been aligned with world peace, and not with conflicts. As a permanent member of the UNSC it will be able to play a larger role concerning pressing international issues. But the latest development shows the path will not be smooth. New Delhi should continue its efforts to build a democratically evolved global consensus on restructuring the Security Council, at the same time pursuing bilateral diplomacy with the big powers. The permanent members ought to realise that there are much more serious issues at stake globally than their own so-called prerogatives, and they should be flexible in addressing those issues.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 4:59:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/restructuring-the-unsc-muchneeded-reform/article7550930.ece

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