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Insights into Editorial: With or without the veto

Insights into Editorial: With or without the veto



US ambassador to the United Nations (Nikki Haley) said that America was open to UN reforms to expand the permanent membership of the security council but the key for India to get there would be to “not touch” the issue of veto power that current members are neither willing to share nor give up.

However, the Indian “government sources” stated that there was no change in India’s stand that it should have “the same obligations, responsibilities and prerogatives as the existing permanent members of the Security Council.”


India believes that the United Nations (UN), especially the UN Security Council (UNSC), must reflect contemporary global realities. For this purpose the reform of the UN including the expansion of the UNSC in both permanent and non-permanent categories is essential.

To this end, the Government of India has been actively working along with other like-minded countries for building support among the UN membership for a meaningful restructuring and expansion of the UNSC.

Why is UNSC reform necessary?

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. These countries were the victors in the World War II and China were their allies. UNSC reform is the need of the hour because,

  • UNSC still reflects the geopolitical architecture of the Second World War.
  • It was expanded only once in 1963 to add 4 non-permanent members.
  • Since then the membership of the United Nations has increased from 113 to 193 without any change in the composition of the UNSC.
  • No permanent member from Africa, despite 75% of work of the UNSC focused on Africa.
  • Unable to respond effectively to situations of international conflict.
  • India and a large number of countries believe that the current UN and its powerful Security Council does not reflect the ground realities of the 21st century.

What are the India’s credentials to become UNSC permanent member?

India has been an extensive contributor to the activities of the UN particularly the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • By any objective criteria such as population, territorial size, GDP, economic potential, civilizational legacy, cultural diversity, political system and past and on-going contributions to the activities of the UN, India is suited for permanent membership of an expanded UNSC.
  • India’s performance as a non-permanent member of the Security Council during 2011- 2012 has also significantly strengthened India’s claim to permanent membership.

Based on these credentials, the Government of India has strongly put across to the international community India’s case for permanent membership of the Security Council.

What are the efforts made by India for its quest for being represented in the permanent category?

For a long time, India has been calling for reform of the UN Security Council.

  • India along with Brazil, Japan and Germany (together known as the G-4) has proposed expansion of the membership of the UNSC in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
  • Separately, India is spearheading a group of around 42 developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin Americacalled the L.69 Group – which has demanded urgent action on the UNSC reform front.
  • India is also pursuing the matter through bilateral channels with our interlocutors.
  • Last month, foreign ministers of G4 countries met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push their case for reform of the UNSC.

A large number of countries have supported India’s initiatives for reform of the UNSC as well as endorsed its candidature for permanent membership. India has also received support from several other multilateral groupings including BRICS and IBSA.

What is the U.S. stand?

US told all members of the UN that it is in support of Security Council reform, as long as its veto power is not taken away.

  • However, the new candidates were only demanding the same veto power for themselves, and the U.S. and other permanent members were firm in rejecting such demands.
  • US ambassador to the UN, latest comment was even more specific about the veto.
  • Statement said that the key to India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council is “not to touch the veto”,

What is stand of other four permanent members on UNSC reforms?

  • Among the permanent members, the opinion of France was closest to India’s in the sense that it supported the addition of five new permanent members, including India, without any objection to veto being extended to them.
  • The U.K. supported the G-4 without the power of veto.
  • Russia, an old supporter of India, was non-committal
  • China indicated that the time had not come for any serious negotiations on the subject.

What is the expected impact of India’s permanent membership?

  • New included members will get to say in the matters of war and peace.
  • India can represent or lead other countries to stop western forces from promoting their vested interests.
  • Will help India to put forward its interest in a better way.
  • India will have leverage in geopolitics, military, economic and political groupings and negotiations as permanent member of UNSC.

The way ahead

India’s claim for permanent membership is a genuine demand in the changed geo politics of 21st century.

US ambassador‘s statement opens up the possibility of permanent membership for India without veto. A draft resolution circulated by the candidates (G-4) had already conceded that they would not expect to have the veto at least for 15 years. Thus a meeting point has emerged between the U.S. and G-4.

India should pursue the lead offered by the U.S. to end the deadlock over the Security Council’s expansion.