UPPCS GS Foundation Live Online Course | 6 DecemberCall Us
This just in:

State PCS

Daily Updates

International Relations

Time to Reform UNSC

  • 30 Sep 2022
  • 10 min read

This editorial is based on “Permanent membership of the UNSC is another story” which was published in The Hindu on 28/09/2022. It talks about issues related to the United Nations Security Council and the need for reforms.

For Prelims: United Nations Security Council, Multilateral Institutions, 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Veto Power, Taiwan Issue ,Intergovernmental Negotiation(IGN), UN Peacekeeping Force

For Mains: Procedure for Amending UNSC Membership, Issues Related to UNSC Reformed Multilateralism, Global Consonance for Global Governance

The process of decolonisation, in which the United Nation and its Security Council played an important role, radically changed the geopolitical landscape of the world. In the past quarter century, the global order has seen massive changes, from American unilateralism to the rise of multilateral institutions and multipolarity.

Developing nations, including India, now play a larger role in both the international economy and politics. But these changes are not reflected in the UNSC, where all critical decisions are still being taken by the veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council.

In his address to the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Indian External Affairs Minister highlighed the anachrony and ineffectiveness in the current architecture of the UNSC.

Hence, it is essential to go beyond P5's prerogatives and look for a more democratic and representative security council.

What is the United Nations Security Council?

  • The United Nations Security Council 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 been a non permanent member of the Council during 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, l984-85, 1991-92, 2011-12 and for the 8th time, has entered the UNSC in 2021 and will stay on the council for the term 2021-22.

What is the Procedure for Amending UNSC Membership?

  • Changing the membership of the UNSC requires amending the UNCharter.
    • This involves consent of two-thirds of the total membership of the U.N, including the concurring votes of P-5.
      • This means that each of the P5 has a veto.
  • The Charter was amended once in the 1960s to enlarge the Council by additional non-permanent seats.

What are the Issues Related to UNSC?

  • Lack of Adequate Representation: It was argued by several speakers that 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 matter of concern that globally impportant 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 criticised 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.
  • 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 Should be the Way Forward?

  • Welcoming Voices Across the Globe: It is perceived as deeply unfair, denying entire continents (Africa) and regions a voice in a forum that deliberates their future.
    • To decentralise UNSC governing power and authority over nations, it is essential that all regions are represented equally in the UNSC.
    • With this transformation, nations of all regions will have the opportunity to raise concerns affecting peace and democracy in their countries.
    • Also, introducing decentralisation to UNSC decision-making will make it more representative, participatory, and democratic.
  • Global Consonance for Global Governance: UNSC should realise there are more pressing issues to be tackled at the global level than merely preserving the prerogatives of P5 nations.
    • There needs to be urgent correction of the power imbalance between the P5 and the rest of the world.
    • It is necessary for the UNSC to be more democratic and more legitimate to govern, ensuring the universal respect of international peace, security, and order.
  • Re-energizing Intergovernmental Negotiation (IGN): Serious negotiations on such critical matters should proceed sincerely. They must not be blocked by procedural tactics.
    • The IGN process, which is the principal framework through which UNSC reform is discussed and debated, needs to be revised and re-energised.
    • Recommendation of the President of the 76th UN General Assembly to gradually move the IGN process towards text based negotiations is a welcoming step.
  • Towards Reformed Multilateralism: Calling for reformed multilateralism with reforms of the Security Council at its core enjoys considerable support among UN members.
    • In order to protect faith in the principles of the United Nations, in its charter, and in reformed multilateralism as a key to achieving global goals, the core issues in UNSC must be critically examined and addressed with global cooperation.
  • India From the Lens of UNSC Reforms: India’s candidature for permanent seat in UNSC is legitimate and justified as it fulfils all the objective criteria for the permanent membership.
    • India has initiated the International Solar Alliance in 2015 to reduce the exploitation of fossil fuels and encourage the use of solar energy and has been a frontrunner in Vaccine Diplomacy.
    • With one among the largest individual contributors to the UN Peacekeeping Force, India is prepared to take up greater responsibilities at the highest security cooperation forum.
      • As the same time, it also seeks to ensure that the injustice faced by the Global South is decisively addressed. India is willing and able to contribute on both counts.

Drishti Mains Question

Addressing the contemporary world realities requires comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council. Comment.

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 the UN Security Council (2015)

SMS Alerts
Share Page