History of UN
The 20th century witnessed two world wars, which were highly destructive of life as well as material. These two wars shook the conscience of the people of the world and highlighted the need for peace and cooperation among nations. The first attempt towards achieving this aim of world peace was in the form of League of Nations after the First World War. This was, of course, a failure, as it could not avert the Second World War.
The search for peace culminated in the formation of the ‘United Nations’ after the Second World War. The name ‘United Nations’ was coined by United States President Franklin D Roosevelt. The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when its charter had been ratified by China, France, USSR, the UK and US, and by the majority of other signatories. This day every year is celebrated as the UN day all the world over.
Headquartered in New York City, the UN also has regional offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. Its official languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Presently the United Nations consists of 193 members and the secretary general is Antonio Guterres.
United Nations and its Organs
The UN has six main organs:
1. The General Assembly
2. The Security Council
3. The Secretariat
4. The Trusteeship Council
5. The Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC)
6. The International Court of Justice
Except for the International Court of Justice which is located in Hague, Netherlands, the other organs of the UN are located in New York.
The significance of the UN security council
The UN Charter assigns to the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council consists of 15 members, including the five permanent members plus 10 nonpermanent members. The five permanent members or P5 as they are called are- United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
The nonpermanent members are chosen to achieve equitable regional representation
Any country—even if it is not a member of the UN—may bring a dispute to which it is a party to the attention of the Security Council. When there is a complaint, the council first explores the possibility of a peaceful resolution. International peacekeeping forces may be authorized to keep warring parties apart pending further negotiations. If the council finds that there is a real threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression it may call upon UN members to apply diplomatic or economic sanctions. If these methods prove inadequate, the UN Charter allows the Security Council to take military action against the offending country.
India’s position in UNSC over the years
The UN Security Council, with its exceptional role in the UN in preserving international peace and security, has always been of significance for India since its founding years. India has been elected for seven terms for a two-year non-permanent member seat, the last being 2011-12. The typical Indian preferences in the UNSC have always been to be a part of the democratic majority contributing to the adoption of broadly acceptable resolutions and decisions.
Significantly, on not more than a dozen times did India stand aside without joining the concurrent majority, and has not voted against any resolution, and resorted to abstentions only to express its reservations. Remarkably, India was never a loner in abstaining as it always had the company of other Council members on many occasions. The Indian behaviour herein clearly points to a systematic effort to display a constructive, rule of law-abiding and a democratic majority building state in a global, multilateral setting like the Security Council.
Reforms in UN Security Council
Why the reforms are needed?
1. As there is a sharp contrast between the number of seats and the total number of member states.
2. Reform is needed to remove the Democracy Deficit.
3. It has failed to tackle the recent crisis of Syria, Gaza and Ukraine.
4. Need to make it efficient, effective, credible and a legitimate body.
The key areas of Reform:
• Equitable Representation
There are 10 non-permanent and 5 permanent members. Now various regions need to be accommodated.
• Categories of membership
Member states that have demonstrated a capacity to shoulder the responsibilities of the principal UN organ should have a presence to ensure the legitimacy of the council. Thus a new category of “semi-permanent” should be included.
• Veto Reforms
The power of veto is frequently cited as a major problem as the P5 members often influence the resolutions making those countries to suffer, which rather need a platform to grow. Proposals include: limiting the use of the veto to vital national security issues; requiring agreement from multiple states before exercising the veto; and abolishing the veto entirely.
Benefits of reforms in UNSC for India
Reforms in UNSC will pave the way for India to attain permanent membership in the Security Council. By being a permanent member of UNSC, India will benefit in the following ways:
• India will get power to veto and have a greater say in world politics.
• Being largest democracy, India’s inclusion into UNSC will make UNSC itself more democratic and inclusive.
• Many smaller nations go unrepresented on world platforms like UNSC. Smaller nations look up to powerful and friendly nations like India to protect their interests. Hence by giving a representation to such smaller states, our relations with such countries will definitely improve.
India has consistently supported the purposes and principles of the UN and has made significant contributions to implementing the goals of the UN Charter. It is high time that the world realises India’s contribution and honour India with a permanent membership of UN Security Council.