UNSC Reforms | 01 Feb 2023

Prelims: UNSC, Membership of UNSC, Peacekeeping missions of UN, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Mains: Issues Associated to the Functioning of UNSC.

Why in News?

Recently, the UN General Assembly president has said the UN Security Council (UNSC) has become “paralysed” and “dysfunctional” in its “present form”, as it has not been able to take any decision since the Russia-Ukraine war started.

What are the Hurdles in Reforming UN?

  • The General Assembly has always been very much divided. Among the 193 countries, there are five negotiating groups and they are neutralising each other.
  • The functioning of the General Assembly is as much important as the permanent members of the UNSC in ensuring reform of the United Nations system.
  • The permanent members were “historically not enthusiastic” about reform of the UN system but they have all agreed that it is necessary for introducing changes in the Security Council.

What is the United Nations Security Council?

  • The UNSC was established by the UN Charter in 1945.
    • It is one of the 6 principal organs of the United Nations.
  • UNSC has 15 members: 5 permanent members (P5) and 10 non-permanent members elected for 2-year terms.
    • The 5 permanent members are: United States, Russian Federation, France, China and the United Kingdom.
  • India has served seven times in the UNSC as a non-permanent member and in January 2021, India entered the UNSC for the eighth time.

What are the Issues with Regard to UNSC?

  • Lack of Adequate Representation:
    • The UN Security Council is less effective because it is less representative, the most pertinent absence being that of Africa, a continent of 54 countries.
    • Current global issues are complex, and interconnected. Lack of representation of geopolitical and geo-economically important countries is leaving out a large segment of global opinion to have a voice in the highest security summit.
    • Furthermore, It is a matter of concern that globally important countries such as India, Germany, Brazil, and South Africa are not represented on the UNSC permanent members list.
  • Misuse of Veto Power:
    • Veto power has been always criticized by many experts as well as by most States calling it a” self-chosen club of the privileged” and non-democratic and not allowing the Council to make necessary decisions whenever it displeases any one of the P-5.
    • It is also not appropriate for the current global security environment to be guided by elite decision-making structures.
  • Geopolitical Rivalry within P5:
    • The geopolitical rivalry among the permanent members has prevented the UNSC from coming up with effective mechanisms to deal with global issues.
    • Taking the current world order as an example, the P5 members: United States, Russia, and China are three poles on the periphery of the globe having several geopolitical issues revolving around them (Taiwan Issue and Russia-Ukraine War).
  • Threat to State’s Sovereignty:
    • As the principal organ of international peacekeeping and conflict resolution, the UNSC is responsible for keeping peace and managing conflict. Its decisions (referred to as resolutions) are binding on all member countries, unlike the General Assembly's.
    • This means that any state's sovereignty can be encroached upon if necessary by taking action, such as imposing sanctions.

What can be the Solution?

  • Democratization of UNSC:
    • The power imbalance between the P5 and other countries in the UNSC needs to be addressed urgently to make the council more democratic and increase its legitimacy in governing international peace, security and order.
  • Expansion of UNSC:
    • The changing needs of global governance for peace and security require significant reforms in the UNSC, including expanding its permanent and non-permanent seats to better address the complex and evolving challenges to international peace and security.
  • Equitable Representation:
    • Equitable representation of all the regions in the UNSC is critical to decentralizing its governing power and authority over nations.
    • The decentralization of the UNSC’s decision-making processes will enable its transformation to a more representative, participatory body.
  • India’s Role:
    • 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.
    • In September 2022, India made a push for UNSC reform hosting a meeting of two separate groupings – G-4 and L-69 – in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
    • As India leads Global South, it needs to revitalise its engagement with its traditional partners in the “global south” by articulating their peace and security concerns in the UNSC.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. The Security Council of UN consists of 5 permanent members, and the remaining 10 members are elected by the General Assembly for a term of (2009)

(a) 1 year
(b) 2 years
(c) 3 years
(d) 5 years

Ans: (b)


Q. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UN Security Council. (2015)

Source: TH