By Shah Rukh Hashmi*
Arguably, the only state in South Asia that has adored the most recent patterns of modern state formation and western political values is India. Democracy has evolved as the only political system and a centripetal force for the country. India, owing to its population, economy and several attributes of powers it possesses, demands a greater role in the global affairs and calls for reform in the United Nations, particularly within the Security Council. This short memo is an attempt to review India’s pursuit for permanent status in the United Nations Security Council, while putting aside the issue of Kashmir. It is argued that resolving the Kashmir issue, as per UNSC’s resolutions, would strengthen India’s case and will win diplomatic support for the region.
Despite having a millennium long shared history, the people of India and Pakistan are badly entrenched in animosity and adversarial relations towards each other. This relatively new but well-engineered antagonism digested the resources of the region by making it the worst region with respect to poverty, literacy, health and many other social indicators. India and Pakistan violently disputed the territory of Kashmir that still remains unfinished agenda of the partition as well as of United Nations Security Council. The issue has ignited three wars between India and Pakistan and it still remains a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia.
Considering the nature and changing characteristics of the post war international order, this seems to be a justified demand for a permanent seat in the United Security Council. However, a state that pursues a deviant path on the Security Council resolutions regarding Kashmir needs compliance with the resolutions to materialize this dream. This compliance will pave the way for India’s bid for a permanent seat in the council and improve its case for this status. Thus, UNSC’s resolution 47 is quite appropriate to complete the unfished agenda of 1947 as well as India’s chase for a permanent seat in the council.
Permanent status in the United Nations Security Council has been one of the global interests of New Delhi. Apparently, this obsession with the Security Council has become an issue of national pride and dignity for India. This delusion is being exploited time and again by Permanent Five (P5) members of the Security Council, as they support India verbally or diplomatically. Interestingly, when it comes to taking practical measures for reforms, P5 members never support such ideas by creating technical or procedural issues.
Since its inception, the Security Council has been retained by P5 members of the council. P5 members have been granted special powers within the charter of the United Nations, as article 27 calls for an affirmative vote of the permanent members for the Security Council to decide any issues other than procedural ones, whereas article 108 endorses their powers by making it out of the question to reform the charter without their consent. This means that one big ‘no’ by any of the P5 members (given the current polarization this would most likely be by China against India) would restrain any such proposed amendment in favor of India.
Reforming the Security Council is not a new phenomenon; there have been strong voices in post-cold war times for the reforms. The present distribution of the permanent status neglects several significant states in contemporary times, these include Brazil and South Africa as emerging economies from the southern hemisphere, Indonesia and Japan from Asia Pacific and Germany as the leading economy and technologically advanced state of central Europe. Certainly India is also one of these aspirants; however, it needs to appease its neighbors by setting a precedent to solve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the Security Council resolutions.
On the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, India was eager to find a place in the Security Council; this fascination was fueled from the start of year primarily by President Obama. However, President Obama’s remarks during the Republic Day celebration in India were nothing more than diplomatic rhetoric for India. He attached the issue of reform with 21st century global order and responsibility to participate in global affairs. Yet, as alluded to earlier, in August of 2015, once again India’s bid for permanent status suffered a huge blow by the composite diplomatic hurdle from the P5 to initiate the reform agenda. The United States ambassador to the UN emphasized to intact present form of veto opposed any alternation or expansion of veto status.
France, the United Kingdom and Russia tacitly and openly endorse India’s bid for the Security Council. Back in September, Russia reaffirmed its support of the Indian candidature for the Security Council for extension to permanent and non-permanent members. Meanwhile, Russia, along with the United States, took a similar stand and stressed to keep intact the privileges of current members of the Security Council, including its right to veto. These prerogatives given to P5 members by the charter are a core hurdle to the reform of the council as none of the P5 members are willing to surrender or subdue their powers in the Security Council.
A concurrent vote and diplomatic weightage in favor of India by South Asian nations in the General Assembly would be pivotal enough to resonate high in the Security Council. The long-standing dispute of the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan must be resolved to mitigate Pakistan’s legitimate apprehension and concerns. Arguably, once the issue of Kashmir is resolved, Pakistan and the rest of South Asia will be at ease to support India’s bid for the Security Council. Thus, India’s position will be strengthened for global maneuvering through regional solutions. Otherwise, New Delhi will have to maintain a prolonged utopia to seek permanent status in the Security Council.
*Shah Rukh Hashmi is a PhD fellow in International Relations at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Jilin University, China. Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan. Earlier he has done Masters in International Relations from the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan.