NEW DELHI: India is at serious odds with China and Pakistan in the UN General Assembly on the expansion of the UN Security Council. Pakistan,
making common cause with China, has been at the forefront opposing additions to permanent members in the Security Council.
This week, India had to fight back a proposal from the Pakistan-led group that an interim solution be found by increasing the non-permanent members in the Security Council while keeping the permanent membership question under debate and reviewing it after some time. India's ambassador, Nirupam Sen, retorted that such a measure would be "incomplete and futile" if there is no increase in the number of permanent members.
"Pakistan supports an increase in the non-permanent members only," its ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said. Pakistan said adding permanent members would make it difficult for other smaller countries. Therefore, Pakistan with China are now pushing for more regional representation, rather than permanent members.
The Pakistan position is eerily similar to the Chinese. An editorial commentary in `Peoples Daily' on February 26, widely believed to be the voice of the Communist party, said, "Reforms should ensure that the large number of small and medium sized nations have more opportunities and can participate in decision-making in the UNSC -- reform of the UNSC is not just about increasing the number of permanent members." China too has been saying in the UN the more non-permanent members should be added rather than permanent ones.
The Indian government has been openly irritated about what it sees as an "unfriendly" attitude by China. Certainly, after the joint statement by the two sides in January 2008, India believed that China had moved a little further towards lowering their objections against India's candidature in the UNSC. But the Chinese "objections" are now being seen as part of the new pattern of veiled hostility by China, which was manifest at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in September. Over the past several months, Indian security agencies have registered a more "aggressive" Chinese position on different sectors of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Pakistan's ambassador said in the UN, "Many of the problems that we want to address through reform are attributed to the permanent members. Enlarging the oligarchy will increase these problems. It will make the Security Council less democratic, less representative, less transparent, less effective and less accountable."
"An increase in national permanent membership is unrealizable," the Pakistan envoy said. "Some of the aspirants are prepared to become permanent members without veto (like India) thus contradicting their claims of counter-balancing the P-5 (the five permanent members)."
"Caution must be exercised in referring to a broad and generic category of permanent membership," he added.
Pakistan is part of the Italy-led United for Consensus (UfC) group, a renamed "coffee club". They have a new tactic -- to support the Arab demand, the African demand and the OIC demand for rotating representation rather than permanent membership. This, say officials, is a ploy to increase their list of supporters. On the other hand, India says more countries support adding permanent members than the "interim" solution.
"Permanent membership is contrary to the principle of sovereign equality of states," the Pakistan ambassador said. "There is no criteria for election of permanent members. They are just there. The aspirants, as we know, also just want to be there. But that may be their idea of reform."
The Italy/Pakistan-led "Uniting for Consensus" (UfC) group seeks enlargement of the council to 25 seats, with 10 new non-permanent members who would be elected for two-year terms, with the possibility of immediate re-election. The African Union has called for the Council to be enlarged to 26 seats, one more permanent seat than the G-4 proposal. Its proposal for six new permanent seats was the same as the G-4's, except that it would give the new members veto power.
"In Larger Freedom"
On March 21, 2005, the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the UN to reach a consensus on expanding the council to 24 members, in a plan referred to as "In Larger Freedom". He gave two alternatives for implementation, but did not specify which proposal he preferred . In any case, Annan favored making the decision quickly, stating, "This important issue has been discussed for too long. I believe member states should agree to take a decision on it – preferably by consensus, but in any case before the summit – making use of one or other of the options presented in the report of the High-Level Panel"
The two options mentioned by Annan are referred to as Plan A and Plan B:
Plan A calls for creating six new permanent members, plus three new nonpermanent members for a total of 24 seats in the council.
Plan B calls for creating eight new seats in a new class of members, who would serve for four years, subject to renewal, plus one nonpermanent seat, also for a total of 24.
The summit mentioned by Annan is the September 2005 Millennium+5 Summit, a high level plenary meeting that reviewed Annan's report, the implementation of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, and other UN reform-related issues
Uniting for Consensus
On July 26, 2005, five UN member countries, Argentina, Italy, Canada, Colombia and Pakistan, representing a larger group of countries called Uniting for Consensus, proposed to General Assembly another project , that maintains five permanent members, and raises the number of non-permanent members to 20. On April 11, 2005, China had 'embraced' this initiative .
New permanent member proposals
The G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) support one another’s bid for permanent seats on the Security Council.One proposed change is to admit more members: the candidates usually mentioned are Japan, Germany, India and Brazil (the G4 nations), and Nigeria. Britain, France and Russia support G4 membership in the UN.  Italy has always opposed this kind of reform, and has submitted since 1992 another proposal, together with other countries, based on the introduction of semi-permanent membership In addition South Korea opposed Japan; Pakistan opposes India; and Mexico and Argentina oppose Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking country in a largely Spanish-speaking Latin America. All these countries have traditionally grouped themselves in the so-called Coffee Club; officially Uniting for Consensus.
Most of the leading candidates for permanent membership are regularly elected onto the Security Council by their respective groups: Japan and Brazil were elected for nine two-year terms each, and Germany for three terms. India has been elected to the council six times in total, although the last of those was more than a decade ago, in 1991-92.
India, a nuclear power, has the world's second largest population and is the world's largest liberal democracy. It is also the world's eleventh largest economy and fourth largest in terms of purchasing power parity. Currently, India maintains the world's third largest armed force. India is the largest contributor of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions.
India's bid is unequivocally backed by permanent members France, Russia and the United Kingdom The Chinese government in Beijing has recently advocated the candidacy. Though several countries like Brazil, Australia, and African Union support India's candidature, popular belief expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is that certain "Major Powers are hindering India's Candidacy.
Though initially opposed by the Chinese due to geo-political reasons (China being an ally of India's arch-rival Pakistan and the country also having fought a brief war with India in 1962), recent history has turned China's official support for India's candidature from negative to neutral to positive, in correlation with stronger economic ties. On 11 April 2005 China announced it would support India's bid for a permanent seat, but without a veto. Although the U.S. officially does not back India's bid — for various reasons, some of which remain decidedly unclear — it has privately been eager to work with India and to support the nation (which translates to not using a veto). However Indo-American relations are currently improving from the Cold War levels of de facto derision, marked by an alliance of mutuality, recently, in March 2006, by the US President George W. Bush making a visit to India, signing a civilian nuclear power sharing programme.
Taking into account its huge population and growing economic and political clout, India is a strong contender to clinch a permanent seat. Another factor which bolsters India's candidature is the fact it has participated in several of its activities, including UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Cambodia, Yemen, Somalia, Rwanda , Namibia, Sinai peninsula, among others.
Sometimes I wonder if we ever will get into the Permanent Membership of the council. Actually, if we get a seat without Veto rights, its no good...
It's like getting a gun without a magazine. So, Permanent Membership has meaning if and only if it's accompanied with Veto rights.
And, is it surprising that China and Pakistan are trying to block it ??? Of course not... it's part of international diplomacy. Try and make sure your neighbour gets nothing. That's the funda. Even we do it. We try to block arms sales to Pakistan.
Now, as far as the existing council is concerned. I don't think they'll oppose expansion of the council tooth and nail. Plus, USA doesn't support our bid yet. So, there's very little chance of us getting a Permanent seat in the immediate future.
The UNSC 'power of veto' is frequently cited as a major problem with the UN. By wielding their veto power (established by Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter), any of the UNSC's five permanent members can prevent the adoption of any (non-'procedural') UNSC draft resolution not to their liking. Even the mere threat of a veto may lead to changes in the text of a resolution, or it being withheld altogether (the so-called 'pocket veto'). As a consequence, the power of veto often prevents the Council from acting to address pressing international issues, and affords the 'P5' great influence within the UN institution as a whole.
For example, the Security Council passed no resolutions on most major Cold War conflicts, including the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Resolutions addressing more current problems, such as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons, are also heavily influenced by the veto, actual or threatened. Additionally, the veto applies to the selection of the UN's Secretary-General, as well as any amendments to the UN Charter, giving the P5 great influence over these processes.
Discussions on improving the UN's effectiveness and responsiveness to international security threats often include reform of the UNSC veto. Proposals include: limiting the use of the veto to vital national security issues; requiring agreement from multiple states before exercising the veto; and abolishing the veto entirely. However, any reform of the veto will be very difficult. Articles 108 and 109 of the United Nations Charter grant the P5 veto over any amendments to the Charter, requiring them to approve of any modifications to the UNSC veto power that they themselves hold.
Nonetheless, it has been argued that the current UNSC 'power of veto' is, fundamentally, irrelevant. With the Assembly's adoption of the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution on 3 November 1950, it was made clear by the UN Member states that, according to the UN Charter, the P5 cannot prevent the UN General Assembly from taking any action necessary to restore international peace and security, in cases where the UNSC has failed to exercise the 'primary responsibility' for maintaining peace. Although not couched in the same language, various high-level reports make explicit reference to the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution as providing the necessary mechanism for the UNGA to overrule any vetoes in the UNSCthus rendering them little more than delays in UN action.
I agree with the point that Vetos are the killer in the UN. They make sure that nothing of any importance is ever passed in the UN.
But,that doesn't address my problems with the fact that a Permanent membership without a Veto is like a gun without a magazine.
I wouldn't mind just a simple Permanent Seat if no other members including the P5 had veto powers. But, they do, and that puts them a notch above us even if we do get that Permanent Seat.
I'm a kind of person who'll not settle for anything less than the best. That's just me. I want the best for my country and nothing less than the best. There's no significance of 2nd best according to me.
So, its either a Permanent Seat with a Veto, or we'd rather stay out of it rather than being considered 2nd class citizens in the Security Council.
And, let's not forget the fact that China has a Veto. Which would perennially put him above our reach.
I feel that it is good for India to stay out of the UNSC for sometime until they are able to get Kashmir back and also solve issues on LAC with the Chinese. Because once our country manages a permanent seat in the security council, we will be forced to engage militarily worldwide leaving aside our own headaches and making the whole world a priority. This would further weaken our causes at home.
It would be like rushing to throw water to a neighbor's house when our own house is on fire with many pressing issues. For now till we are able to solve the afore-mentioned problems, I think that we must constantly make sure that we have constant support of the 3 permanent members of the UNSC (Russia, France and Britain) to such an extent that we make our presence known to the world in strategy and geo-political matters of our region.
USA and China no matter how friendly they might pretend to be, would never officially endorse India's participation in the UNSC as a veto power. There are two reasons:
1) We would technically be wielding the same power as USA and this would mean that whatever little political pressure they can manage to put on Indian politics would also vanish.
2) China's regular and relentless claims for Indian territories would be nullfied as India could potentially counter every single resolution that it would deem threatening to itself by China.
So the only way we can stay out of saving the whole world and at the same time make our presence felt in the UNSC is to keep 3 of our strongest supporters of VETO powers in our pockets by significant political and military diplomatics. This would be beneficial for both the supporting nations in terms of increasing their trade to India and at the same time India would have a reasonable amount of ground to counter China in case any future disputes or conflicts occur.
a very valid point you brought up vayusena about getting involved militarily in world matters, it is true we need to settle down the domestic problems before we start to involve ourselves to much in the world sphere but regarding keeping the support of 3 major veto power holders i am not very sure.
russia and france can be relied upon as they have proven themselves to be all-weather friends but about britain it is ever possible that britan wont support the US instead support india in various matters, in the UN its still the US who calls the shots for the british.so anyway we need to let our presence felt on the world stage whether we have the support of the british or not.
it is in USA's best interest to give India UNSC seat and ignore the noise, or else India can just shift toward the SCO, the UN is just a paper tiger group that has started more wars than it ever prevented.
But, what are the chances that we can start dissent amongst the other UN members and threaten to take them to another organization and thus put pressure on the UN ruling elite to give us that seat ??? (I mean, like a horse-trading Indian Politics scenario)
Vayusena1, I frankly do not see how India would go about getting back POK. Unless some major negative changes occur and the Pakistani state is too weak to protect its borders, it is an impossibility.
Secondly, being a permanent member of the UNSC doesn't oblige you to engage militarily in other parts of the world. The example of course, is China, which has not sent troops outside its borders for quite some time now, in spite of being a part of the security council.
Infact, a permanent seat will lessen the need to use military force to achieve our strategic goals on the world stage, for obvious reasons.
Having said that, I agree that no permanent member is going to support us for UNSC seat. Some will oppose us from the start, others will support us verbally but do nothing to further the cause.
The fact is that unless some major changes occur in the world order which will make it impossible to continue the current arrangement, the present set of permanent members will not dilute their power.