United Nations Security Council: Today’s Talk on Editorials
Significance: India has been actively pitching for reforms in United Nations Security Council. It wants permanent membership of members to be reformed. The current permanent members of the Security Council are the five nations that were made permanent members in the charter when the United Nations was founded. It has not undergone any reforms till now even after 70 years of formation.
About UNSC: The UN Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened. All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.
Functions of UNSC: Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:
- To maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations and to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction.
- To recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement and to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments.
- To determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken and to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression.
- To take military action against an aggressor and to recommend the admission of new Members.
- To recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and together with the Assembly to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice. Recently, in the ICJ judge election process UNSC members also participated to elect them.
Instances where UNSC failed in its objectives:
- Members work on their vested Interests: UNSC’s permanent members take decisions based on their vested interests rather than for global good. For example, China blocked efforts in the UN Security Council (UNSC) to slap sanctions against JuD and its leader Hafiz Saeed which were operating against India from Pakistan.
- Ineffectiveness to solve global issues: The permanent members themselves veto important resolutions which aim at curbing terrorism and bringing back peace and security. It works against the aim and objectives of UNSC. For example, Russia blocked a Western-led effort at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to condemn gas attack in Syria, UNSC action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is considered constrained by the US, which traditionally protects Israel’s interests.
- Issues of stagnation in globally important resolutions: Fearing threat of veto powers of the permanent members, some resolutions are not even presented in the UNSC. This is not reflected in the usual statistics and is known as pocket veto. Pocket vetoes thus block resolutions that potentially could have made a difference, because of the initial assessment that the draft would clash with the interests of one or more of the permanent members and thus have no chance of adoption.
- Discriminatory treatment: is present in several global treaty and arrangement drafted by UNSC. For example, Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty contains provisions of non-proliferation,disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, it discriminates between nuclear weapon states (5 members of UNSC) and non nuclear weapon states and provide favour to the 5 nuclear weapon states. This is why, India remains non signatory to NPT.
Recent reforms suggested in UNSC functioning:
- Suspension of veto: A French initiative aims to call for a political declaration on suspension of veto powers in cases of mass atrocity and calling on permanent members to explain their vote when casting a veto.
- Code of Conduct: Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct commits UNSC members not to vote against credible draft resolutions that seek to end or prevent genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.
- Elders’ Proposal: It is an independent group of global leaders currently chaired by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling for the five permanent members not to use their veto in situations of mass atrocities without publicly clarifying an alternative course of action in order to protect the populations in question.
Recently, UNSC has put forward the idea of introducing new categories for consideration in inter-governmental negotiations on expansion of the UNSC. However, it was immediately opposed by India which seeks an immediate reform to the UNSC. These options were already discussed previously and were rejected. India argued that introducing new categories neither reflect the new political realities nor address the crisis of legitimacy that confronts the United Nations Security Council.
India’s stand on UNSC: The unrepresented and underrepresented want parity. India is not satisfied with serving longer terms in UNSC non permanent seats and wants to break through the barrier of being unrepresented in the permanent category. India argues that UNSC has to acknowledge the current geopolitical
realities are very different from the time when UNSC was formed.