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International Relations

United Nation Security Council

  • 06 Jan 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: United Nations and its organs, UNSC and its features

For Mains: Issues Associated to the Functioning of UNSC, Need to bring reforms in the UN Security Council, India’s role as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, India’s case for permanent membership in the UNSC.

Why in News

The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) got five new non permanent members (Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates).

  • Estonia, Niger, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam finished their terms recently.
  • Albania is joining for the first time while Brazil is taking an 11th turn. Gabon and Ghana each have been on the council three times before and the UAE once.
  • More than 50 of the UN’s 193 member countries have never been elected to the council since its formation.

Key Points

  • UNSC:
    • About:
      • The Security Council was established by the UN Charter in 1945. It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.
        • The other 5 organs of the United Nations are—the General Assembly (UNGA), the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat.
      • Its primary responsibility is to work to maintain international peace and security.
      • The council is headquartered at NewYork.
    • Members:
      • The council has 15 members: the five permanent members and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
        • The five permanent members are the United States, the Russian Federation, France, China and the United Kingdom.
        • India, for the eighth time, has entered the UNSC as a non-permanent member last year (2021) and will stay on the council for two years i.e 2021-22.
      • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of ten in total) for a two-year term. The ten non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis.
      • The council's presidency is a capacity that rotates every month among its 15 members.
    • Voting Powers:
      • Each member of the Security Council has one vote. Decisions of the Security Council on matters are made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members. A "No" vote from one of the five permanent members blocks the passage of the resolution.
      • Any member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council may participate, without vote, in the discussion of any question brought before the Security Council whenever the latter considers that the interests of that member are specially affected.
  • India in the UNSC:
    • India took active part in the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1947-48 and raised its voice passionately against racial discrimination in South Africa.
    • India has played its part in formulating decisions on several issues such as admitting former colonies to the UN, addressing deadly conflicts in the Middle East and maintaining peace in Africa.
    • It has contributed extensively to the UN, particularly for the maintenance of international peace and security.
      • India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel.
    • India's population, territorial size, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), economic potential, civilisational legacy, cultural diversity, political system and past and ongoing contributions to UN activities make India’s demand for a permanent seat in the UNSC completely rational.
  • Issues with UNSC:
    • Absence of Records and Texts of Meetings:
      • The usual UN rules don’t apply to the UNSC deliberations and no records are kept of its meetings.
      • Additionally, there is no “text” of the meeting to discuss, amend or object.
    • Powerplay in UNSC:
      • The veto powers that the UNSC’s five permanent members enjoy is an anachronism in this age.
      • The UNSC in its current form has become a constraint in understanding the international changes and dynamics in the area of human security and peace.
    • Divisions Among the P5:
      • There is a deep polarisation within the UN’s membership, so decisions are either not taken, or not heeded.
      • Frequent divisions within the UNSC P-5 end up blocking key decisions.
        • Example: With the coronavirus pandemic emergence, the UN, the UNSC, and World Health Organisation failed to play an effective role in helping nations deal with the spread.
    • An Underrepresentation Organisation:
      • The absence in the UNSC of the globally important countries – India, Germany, Brazil and South Africa - is a matter of concern.

Way Forward

  • The imbalances in power relationships among P5 and the rest of the world needs to be corrected urgently.
  • Also, it is needed to reform the Security Council through an expansion in permanent and non-permanent seats to enable the UN organ to better deal with the “ever-complex and evolving challenges” to the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • India as the current one of the non-permanent members of the UNSC can start by drafting a resolution containing a comprehensive set of proposals for reforming the UNSC.
    • It can further approach other like-minded countries (like the G4: India, Germany, Japan and Brazil) and keep growing its circle of support till sufficient numbers of countries are together to reach out to the whole UNGA to propose the resolution with a realistic chance of winning the vote.

Source: IE

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