UNSC reforms: Voting way ahead

UNSC reforms: Voting way ahead

Focus on eliminating terror safe havens in Pak: India to UNSC

The international community must take heed of India’s suggestions to break the long-standing deadlock in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) over the reforming the UN Security Council (UNSC). India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin has called on the UNGA to adopt its rules of procedure with voting rather than waiting for a consensus to move forward the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN).  Working towards a consensus is, of course, the best way to go and reforms that arise out of consensus are more likely to be durable. But such a consensus on UNSC reforms has remained elusive despite years of efforts. Ten rounds of negotiations have taken place so far without any progress to report. A 12-member group of countries known as United for Consensus (UfC) is opposed to expansion of the UNSC to include more permanent members. It has used the ruse of consensus-building to stall the IGN. By calling for voting in the UNGA on the issue, India is being pragmatic as no consensus is in sight.

UfC, which is led by Italy, includes Pakistan and other countries that have each their own axes to grind with regional rivals and are using the UN reform process to further their petty objectives. Pakistan, for instance, does not want to see India become a veto-wielding permanent member of the UNSC. As part of the UfC, it has blocked meaningful reforms and, instead, is pushing for adding more non-permanent members or extending their terms in the UNSC. By insisting on consensus to be reached on the text of the document, the UfC members are blocking any and all progress. These perpetual naysayers are holding the entire reform process to ransom.

The UNSC’s five permanent members were the most powerful in the mid-1940s when the UN was being set up. The power balance has changed remarkably since then with India, Germany, Japan and Brazil—also known as the Group of 4 (G-4)—emerging economic, military and technological powerhouses. Not only does the present UNSC not reflect the current power balance but also, it is undemocratic and opaque in its functioning. A UNSC that does not include India — with a sixth of the world’s population — as a permanent member cannot be seen to be representative of the world. The G-4 is spearheading the effort to make the UNSC more democratic and representative. By making consensus on the reform text essential, a handful of obstructionist countries are being allowed to stall the much-needed UNSC reforms. The G-4 must campaign vigorously to get its views accepted by other UNGA members.

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