At the UNSC, a three-­point agenda

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Winning a unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations, India has won its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term in 2021-22. The article suggests India for projecting itself as a responsible nation, at this latest opportunity, after being in the UNSC for 14 years for the past seven times since 1950-51.


About UNSC

  • United Nations Security Council (UNSC), is an organ of the United Nations (UN), whose primary responsibility is the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • With an amendment to the UN Charter, UNSC consists of 15 members, including 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members.
  • The five permanent members (mostly powers who emerged victorious in World War II) are the US, UK, France, China and Russia.
  • These permanent members have the all important veto-power, which means a resolution or decision would be approved without their consensus.
  • The remaining 10 non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms, starting 1 January. Five members are replaced each year.
  • The nonpermanent members are generally chosen to achieve equitable representation among geographic regions, with five members coming from Africa or Asia, one from eastern Europe, two from Latin America, and two from western Europe or other areas.
  • The presidency is held by each member in rotation for a period of one month.
  • Each member has one vote.
  • Decisions on procedural and substantive matters are made by a consensus of at least 9 members, including 5 permanent members. However, a permanent may abstain without impairing the validity of the decision.


India and UNSC

  • India, which joined the U.N. in 1945, two years before independence in 1947, is the second-largest and one of the largest constant contributors of troops to the United Nations peacekeeping missions with nearly 180,000 troops serving in 44 missions since it was established.
  • India is also among the highest financial contributors to the UN, with the country making regular donations to several UN organs like the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).
  • Demanding expansion of UNSC and inclusion as a permanent member in it, India has already held a non-permanent seat on the UNSC for seven terms: 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992 and 2011-2012.
  • India had announced its candidacy for the 2021-22 seat at the end of 2013, with Afghanistan, a potential contender, withdrawing its nomination to accommodate India’s candidacy based on the “long-standing, close and friendly relations” between the two countries.
  • India (or any other country for that matter) would want a permanent membership to the UNSC for the following reasons.
  1. The veto power, which India could use to defend its interests, say against Pakistan (just like Russia did last year over the civil war in Ukraine).
  2. The sheer prestige associated with permanent membership of a multilateral forum.
  3. India’s elevation will also be an acknowledgment of its rise as a global power, ready to play a key role in the council’s objectives of international peace and security.


India as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 2021-22:


A] Challenges to be faced:

  • Finding itself in between a troubled region of ‘West and East Asia’, India is fac ing with insurgen­cies, terrorism, human and nar­cotics trafficking, and great power rivalries.
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  • Cataclysmic dislocations in West Asia, with Iraq and Syria facing terrorist groups like Islamic State and Levant (Daesh), consequenced with the nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are contributing to instability in the region.
  • Afghanis­tan’s slow but unmistakable unra­velling from the support, suste­nance and sanctuary provided in its contiguity to groups such as the Haqqani network, the Taliban, and al­Qaeda makes the Asia terrorism prone area.
  • Other problems in Asia include strategic mistrust or misperception, unresolved bor­ ders and territorial disputes, the absence of a pan­Asia security ar­chitecture, and competition over energy and strategic minerals.
  • Fear, populism, polarisation, and ultra­national­ism have become the basis of polit­ics in many countries.


B] Leadership in Asia-Pacific Region:

  • As per the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “World in 2050”, China will be the world’s number one economic power by 2050, followed by India.
  • At a time when there is a deficit of international leadership on glo­bal issues, especially on security, migrant movement, poverty, and climate change, India has an op­portunity to promote well­ ba­lanced, common solutions.
  • Given the twin challenges of a rising China, and the U.S. receding from its UN responsibilities, India must consider how it will strengthen the multilateral world order amid frequent unilateral moves by both the world powers.


C] What should India aim to do?

  • As a member of the UNSC, India must help guide the Council away from the perils of invoking the principles of humanitarian in­terventionism or ‘Responsibility to Protect’.
  • India should push to ensure UNSC sanctions on terrorist groups, individuals and entities to warrant terrorism in the area and remaining world.
  • Having good relations with all the great powers, India must pursue inclusion, the rule of law, constitutionalism and rational internationalism.
  • Becoming a consensus-builder, India should strive for a harmonised response in dealing with global problems of climate change, disarmament, terrorism, trade and development.
  • To stride the global stage with confidence, India should focus on stable relations with its neighbours.
  • Seeking an elusive permanent seat in the UNSC, India will have to:
    • Increase its financial contribution to the UN.
    • Raise its involvement in South-East Asia and its larger neighbourhood.


  • A non-permanent membership in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will help India to build a stable and secure external environment for its singular objective of permanent membership in UNSC.
  • It will also help India in promoting its own peo­ple’s prosperity, regional and glo­bal security and growth, and a rule­ based world order.
  • Thus, India must think big as it takes a step towards a non-permanent seat on the


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