The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday described as a “significant development” the UN General Assembly’s decision to adopt text-based negotiations for the Security Council reforms. The decision is expected to provide much-needed momentum to the fulfillment of a fervid dream of Indian diplomats which is India becoming a permanent member with a veto on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). That the UNSC needs to be reformed is a given. In an ideal world, the UNSC would be mandated to keep international peace and security. However, like the Shield Security Council in the Avengers movie it is under a constant barrage of criticism for its plans and actions. It goes without saying that the UNSC is one of the most powerful multilateral cartels. At the same time, the UNSC is not the abode of gods as its authority has steadily been undermined by powerful member nations ever since the UN was created as a result of the Bretton Woods conference. On September 12, 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush addressed the General Assembly and outlined a catalogue of complaints against the Iraqi government. The United Nations response to this was the passing of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 offered Iraq under Saddam Hussein “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations”. Needless to say no such opportunity was given to Saddam or the nation of Iraq. Nearly 13 years later Iraq as a country lies in tatters and as a result of the war of 2003 almost a decade later there is a vast humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in neighbouring Syria. It is safe to posit that the UNSC unlike its Marvel comics counterpart Shield is not that effective or even remotely that powerful. The Security Council is not representative of the geopolitical realities of the modern world. Both Africa and Latin America lack a permanent seat on the <g data-gr-id="43">Council,</g> while Europe is over-represented and Asia is under-represented. These problems are not easily resolved because the Permanent Five members (P5) of the Council do not want to see their power diminish. As a result, little progress has been made since 1993 in spite of the number of proposals that have been suggested. The central issues in Council reform are membership, transparency and working methods, and the veto.
The natural question that arises is why a seat on the UNSC so coveted? There are multiple incentives that a seat on the UNSC would provide to India. India can tackle human rights violations in our neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka (after Civil war crimes), Myanmar (Rakhine Muslims crisis), Afghanistan (gender-based crimes) with much more authority and gravitas. The Indian Ocean can be declared as “Zone of Peace”. As regional representation increases, India can represent or lead other countries to stop western forces (USA, UK, France) from promoting their vested interests. Invasion of Iraq, <g data-gr-id="36">bombing</g> of Libya, non-recognition of Palestine state are few examples that could have turned out differently if India had a seat on the UNSC. Having UNSC permanent membership, India can have leverage in geopolitics, military, economic and political groupings and negotiations. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Assuming such a utopian scenario were to become a reality, India would need to contribute significant number of trained troops, military hardware, and funds to carry peacekeeping operations. India in such a hypothetical scenario would be bound by UNSC resolutions and would have a limited say ever if we differ from UNSC decision. As a developing country, we are working hard to provide basic necessities to every family. With the mammoth financial burden that would come with having a permanent seat, permanent membership in UNSC is something that can be put on the backburner for now.