The first session of Security Council was held on 17 January 1946. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is entrusted with the work of maintenance of International peace & security. The United Nations Security Council being one of the six fundamental organs of the United Nations owns the responsibility of securing international peace. Unlike other organs it is the only UN body which has the authority to issue resolutions which are binding on the member states.
The UN was created because of the failure of another International organization, the League of Nations, after World War II, in maintaining international peace and security. The Security Council was established because of the same reason as one of the six principal organs of UN. After peacekeeping and military missions launched by UNSC at different times in Cambodia, Bosnia Kuwait, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, it finally gained its due authorization.
Originally the United Nations Security Council had only 11 members, out of which only 5 are recognized as permanent members and the other 6 were non permanent members. But in 1965 the Charter increased the number of members to 15 but the number of permanent members remained as it is. The five permanent members or the P5 are People’s Republic of China, French Fifth Republic, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (since 1946) and United States of America (since 1946). These 5 permanent members are the great powers that were the victors of World War II, who are veto-wielding permanent members. The equitable representation among geographic regions becomes the basis of selection of non-permanent members. 5 out of the total 10 non-permanent members are elected each year by the General Assembly for a term of two-years, making the other five retire each year. The presidency is held by each member for a period of one month, in rotation. India has been a member of the United Nations Security Council for six terms, in toto 12 years.
India’s Bid for Permanent Seat
India has got a lot of reasons to seek for a permanent seat in the UNSC. The qualifications and marks that India has achieved in recent times make it the most favored and likely nation to get a permanent seat in the UNSC.
One of such reason is the population of India, approx 1.2 billion; which conveys that one in every 6 person in the world is an Indian and soon it will take over China. Another reason and considerably the most important reason is that India is the largest democracy in the world. Thirdly, talking about economy and military, it is 10th biggest economy in the world at present, plus India has the 3rd largest army in the world after China and the USA. Adding to that, India is a Nuclear power too. Fourthly, India has been a member of UNSC for 6 terms that means for 12 years besides being a member of G-77 and G-4, so a permanent seat in UNSC seems to be a logical and realistic extension. Fifthly, if we look at India’s contribution in troops in UN, it is the third largest contributor of troops in more than 40 peacekeeping operations of UN and not to forget that more than 150 Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives while serving in UN missions in various missions.
Benefits of Getting Permanent Seat at UNSC
The United Nations has two main bodies:
- The UN General Assembly (UNGA): Every member nation of UN holds seat in this body.
- The UN Security Council (UNSC): A group comprising of 15 members, out of which 5 are permanent members (China, Russia, France, UK and the USA) and other 10 elected non permanent members for a term of two years.
India is seeking a permanent seat in UNSC because if India becomes a permanent member, it can veto a resolution. It is biggest advantage a permanent member enjoys in the UN Security Council. According to Sec 27 of UN Charter, Security Council decisions of all substantive matters require an affirmative vote of minimum 9 members, a single negative vote, or Veto, also popularly known as the rule of “Great power unanimity” by a permanent member can prevent the council from adopting the proposal. It does not matter even if it has received the required number of affirmative votes i.e. 9. Interestingly, recent restructuring of UN Security Council suggested addition of more permanent members in order to reflect the Geo-political scenario in a better way. Understandably, India is eying to get that permanent seat which serves great powers to the permanent member nations. If India gets a Veto power, it will surely dominate the UN policy in favor of India and will definitely help India get positive and better influence on world politics.
Though India has probably the strongest chances of becoming a permanent member but there stand certain obstructions which India needs to overcome. Some of those obstructions are:
- China: China being India’s next door neighbor doesn’t seem to be a friendly one. China’s position on India’s bid has always been ambiguous. Though China has always been open to consideration but is not ready to approve this bid. Indo-China relations are far better now as compared to post 1962 decade. Finally “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai” phrase can help India overcome these obstruction decades after it actually came into existence. The newly elected government with majority seats in Lok Sabha has taken crucial steps to strengthen its ties with China.
- Pakistan: Naturally, Pakistan does not want India to hold a permanent seat in UNSC though they do not have much influence over this matter. But their ties with China and the USA keep India away from holding that position.
- UN security council structure: This is the biggest problem India will face in the coming years. India might get verbal support of the P5, yet to get a permanent seat in UNSC an amendment to the UN Charter is required, which requires two-third votes of general members and support of P5.
- The USA: As India is a nuclear state, and has not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it keeps annoying the US office but the recent visit of President Obama to India proved quite a masterstroke by the Modi Government. And finally, the US has given its nod to India’s permanent seat bid.
India has always provided its best troops to the UN Security Council whenever needed and India’s troops are considered as one of the best troops. But providing troops is one thing and getting the permanent seat is altogether a different thing. You certainly do not get the position on this basis. India needs to show its power of persuasion and political influence at the international level. India does have all the qualities of becoming a permanent member with its sky reaching economy, developing military base and its being on the verge of becoming the most populous country at the same time. So there is no denying the fact of India’s ubiquitous physical presence on the world stage and the important need for adequate representation in a strategic and decisive forum, such as UNSC, to establish peace in the world.
About the Author
Kunwar Raaj Vishwakarma is a fourth year law student at Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies, Bangalore. His areas of interest include Criminology and Constitutional Law. He is also keen to learn more about research work and oral advocacy skills. His earlier internships with Nisar Sab Associates and Tomy Sebestian Associates has helped have a better grip over these skills. He has a strong inclination towards politics too. Apart from this, he has been an active participant in many cultural activities in the college. He is currently interning with the Model Governance Foundation.