India gets highest number of votes for UNSC seats in 5 years

UNSC membership
Last Updated 13 October 2010, 03:33 IST

Hardeep Singh Puri, India's envoy to the UN, described this as a "ringing endorsement."
"This is the highest vote that any country has got in the last five years," he told PTI. "Now that's saying a lot."

Out of the 190 countries that voted, India received 187 votes. After the vote in the General Assembly last morning, the diplomats of the Indian mission to the UN celebrated by openning a couple of bottles of champagne and serving a lunch of spicy Chinese food.
India, which is a founding member of the UN is returning to the Security Council after a gap of 19 years.

It has been on the Council six times before—having last served in 1992. Other countries to be elected are South Africa, Colombia, Germany and Portugal.

Canada, which was also contending, received the least number of votes and eventually withdrew after the second round of voting.

The five new countries will be replacing Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda.
Three of the new members are part of the G4 (India, Brazil, Japan and Germany), which want to become permanent members.

After the vote, India made it clear that it would be pushing for change in the next two years as it serves out it term as a non-permanent member.

"Not only are we entering the council but we're entering the council when inter-governmental text based negotiations are underway and those text based negotiations are expected to progress for a final outcome in the next twelve months," Puri said.

The Indian envoy asserted that countries like Brazil and South Africa "are expected to utilise their tenure as non-permanent members in order to facilitate longer-term permanent membership for themselves while their serving this terms."

While India, South Africa, and Colombia were not challenged by any other country from their region, the two seats of the Western European and Others Group were contested between Portugal, Germany and Canada.

Germany made it in the first round of voting with 128 votes—just enough to scrape through, while Canada received the least number of votes and eventually withdrew after the second round of voting.

Puri did not comment on Canada's performance except to draw a parallel between the 1996 vote when India failed to make the cut and was trailing behind the Japan in the election.

"It took us more than a decade to overcome the trauma of our experience in 1996," he said.

"In successive rounds of voting Canada realised that it was not mustering the votes...it did what was honourable... it withdrew... what the impact of that is going to be I really don't know... lets wait and see."

Without answering which countries India voted for, Puri said that New Delhi was happy that Portugal and Germany had joined the Council.

Also present in the General Assembly Hall during the vote was veteran Congressman, Vidya Charan Shukla, who also served as India's Foreign Minister.

Shukla also asserted that the vote today indicated that India enjoyed support for a longer stint on the Council.

"I felt very elated and happy because this will show how strong we are as a candidate for the permanent membership," he told PTI. "The way people voted for us, it strengthens our case for permanent membership."

Responding to Germany's performance, which just made the cut, Shukla said,"Germany is also candidate for permanent membership but this kind of victory weakens their case for permanent membership."

Pointing out that UN member-states know about India's aspiration for permanent membership, Puri noted that the high number of votes indicated widespread support for its presence on the international stage.

"That is a clear and unmistakable signal that India and its role is not only acknowledged but respected by the international community," he said, adding "what is important is that you win the election not by a comfortable margin but by a massive margin."

India will begin serving its two year term in January 2011.

(Published 12 October 2010, 13:53 IST)

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