UN Reforms And India’s Case For Permanent Membership Of The UNSC – OpEd
The United Nations was established in 1945 to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war and maintain international peace and security. Reflecting the geo-political realities of that time, it provided permanent membership to the five major powers of that time in the most important organ of the United Nations, the Security Council.
Acknowledging the vital role these five countries were supposed to play in maintaining international peace and security, it gave these five countries the power to veto any decision in the UNSC. Although it violated the principle of equality, no country objected to it. All member countries agreed that without a consensus among all five major powers, it was not feasible to visualize an effective international organization capable of intervening to maintain international peace. But the world has changed since then.
In the beginning, there were fifty countries in the UN, but now there are 193 countries. India, at the time of the establishment of the UN, was a British colony but joined the world body. Since its independence in 1947, India has achieved remarkable progress as the largest democracy and has also become the world’s fifth-largest economy. As the leader of the third world and also as the pioneer of the non-aligned movement, it played an important role in the United Nations. Its role was crucial in ending apartheid in South Africa. In the 1950s, India proposed a total ban on all nuclear tests and dreamed of a world free of all nuclear weapons. India’s commitment to counterterrorism is acknowledged all over the world. It is pertinent to mention that India was the first country to propose to the UN a comprehensive international treaty against terrorism.
India’s role in the peacekeeping missions of the United Nations has received acclamations. The UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon had appreciated India’s consistent and long-standing support for the UN’s peacekeeping operations. The Ministry of Defence, Government of India rightly observes: “India can take pride in the fact that the undeterred commitment and participation of Indian Armed Forces personnel have received praise from the global community. Indian Armed Forces personnel, through their dedication and determination towards international peace, have set a benchmark for the rest of the world.”
The Ministry of Defence further observes: “In 77 years of the UN’s existence, India has served in 49 of 71 UN missions. Our soldiers have shown dedication and determination of the highest order by serving in the most physically demanding and harshest environments. This act of devotion has also brought our forces worldwide applause and recognition. More than 200,000 Indian nationals have contributed to the UN Peacekeeping, till date.”
India is the largest democracy in the world. Accommodation of diversities and satisfying the aspirations of all segments of the Indian population through one of the finest constitutions has been appreciated. Its role as one of the leading developing countries in the international arena must be acknowledged. It should be emphasized here that India followed an independent foreign policy without joining either bloc when the Cold War was the dominant feature of international relations. It is more significant because India’s neighbours and its arch-rivals China and Pakistan had joined the Socialist and the Ca[pitalist blocs, respectively.
India attaches importance to the principle of morality in its foreign policy, which is evident from the fact that despite knowing the implications, it offered all possible help and assistance to the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans who were the victims of Chinese high-handedness. The Dalai Lama was not only given asylum but was allowed to form a government in exile on Indian soil. The practitioners of realism in international relations would definitely prescribe a different course of action in the wake of the Tibetan uprising, but India chose to attach importance to the principle of morality rather than crude national interest.
India is a country that can play a crucial role in bridging the growing gap between the global South and North. While declaring India’s candidature for non-[permant membership of the UNSC, External Affairs Minister, Shri Jaishankar said: “We have also sought to be the voice of the global South on many issues of concern. We have tried to not only articulate their interests and anxieties but also tried to see whether we could serve as a bridging role in the Council.”
It is important for the UN to realize the potential of India as a peacemaker. With its values of Vasudeva kutambakum,(the whole world is one human family) and its commitment to panchsheel(the five principles of mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence) in the conduct of international relations, it can play a vital role in maintaining international peace. India’s candidacy for the permanent seat with veto power can be defended on morally and logically respectable grounds. Denying or delaying a legitimate aspiration of India to play a more significant role as a permanent member of the UNSC will be a travesty of justice and a denial of the existing realities of international relations.
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