India’s Bid for a Permanent Seat at the UN Security Council Suffers Blow

UNITED NATIONS: In a setback to India’s bid for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, the US, along with Russia and China, has opposed negotiations to reform the powerful UN body, refusing to contribute to a text that will form the basis for the long-drawn reform process.

UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating a text to UN members that will form the basis for the negotiations on the reform of the Security Council. Mr Kutesa had appointed Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform.

Mr Kutesa, in a letter dated July 31 to all United Nations members, said he is also circulating letters containing the positions of groups and Member States that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text. These countries include US, Russia and China.

Sources told the Press Trust of India that the US opposition to aspects of the reform process can be perceived as a “duplicity” since President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.

Russia, which has also supported India’s candidacy as permanent member, said in its letter to Mr Kutesa that the “prerogatives of the current Permanent Members of the Security Council, including the use of the veto, should remain intact under any variant of the Council reform”.

“The intergovernmental negotiations on the UN Security Council reform should proceed in a calm, transparent and inclusive atmosphere free from artificial deadlines,” it said.

India has maintained that the process to expand the powerful UN body “cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum” and a results-based timeline is crucial to achieve a concrete outcome.

“Those who ask for not imposing artificial timelines may be advised to desist from inflicting artificial delays on this process,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji has said in the past.

Sources said that India feels that the 70th anniversary of the UN, being commemorated this year, is an appropriate milestone to propel the reform process, which should be completed within the next one year.

Russia said that in the situation when positions of the main groups of states – those who support the idea of the UN Security Council’s expansion in both categories and those who do not – remain polar, one can advance in the negotiating process only by searching for a compromise.

It said that while it supports broader representation of the developing countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America on a reformed Security Council, it is important to maintain compact composition of the Council in order for it to provide an adequate and prompt reaction to new challenges.

“The number of members in an enlarged UNSC should not exceed a reasonable level of low twenties,” it added.

On improvement of the working methods of the Security Council, Russia said the leading role in this process should belong to the Security Council itself as the “only legitimate master of its own procedures and working methods.”

China said UNSC reform is “multifaceted”, covering not only issues such as enlarging the Council’s membership and strengthening representation, but also increasing efficiency and improving working methods. It added that Member States are still seriously divided on the Security Council reform and no general agreement has been reached on any solution so far.

India has said it would then find it very difficult to meaningfully engage with the process.

China also stressed that new seats of the Security Council should be reasonably distributed. It also noted that any solution or reform model should enjoy general consensus.

India has received support from France and the UK, the two remaining permanent members of Security Council. The two nations along with Kazakhstan and Romania have specifically named in the negotiating text Brazil, Germany, India, Japan and an African representation to be included among the permanent members of a reformed UNSC.

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