India is striving hard to get a membership in the UN security council,as part of it’s strategy to get a permanent status India is playing a very active role in maintaining good bilateral relations with nations who are supporting for a permanent membership for India.Providing financial aids to countries like Afghanistan,Burundi,Myanmar etc. to get support from these nations,and India’s role among the ASEAN,SAARC,BRICS countries is also important to get this coveted status and thus join the 5 permanent countries in UN security council. 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, and the five nations that are legally recognized as “nuclear weapons states” (although permanent membership is not officially contingent on the possession of nuclear weapons). Those five countries are:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Soviet Union (now Russia)
- Republic of China (now the People’s Republic of China)
At the time that China became a permanent member, it was not a particularly strong or influential country. However, it was one of the “big four” Allies during World War II, and had a strong relationship with the United States. It was in the interests of the other Allied powers on the Security Council, particularly the United States, to build Chinese influence and relations, and to recognize the nation as a key player in the war. India was also one of the charter members of the UN, joining in 1945 (the same time as the P5), but it was not an independent nation during WWII. (Its legal independence and partition came about in 1947, after which Pakistan applied for membership separately.)
Keep in mind that this China was the Republic of China, with whom the United States had very close political and military ties, and not the Communist government that later came to power as the People’s Republic of China, which only took over China’s Security Council seat in 1971. For quite a long time, both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of “China” and both claimed the same land as their own. It took a UN resolution to have Chinese membership shifted from the ROC to the PRC. (The ROC, i.e. Taiwan, is no longer recognized as a UN member state, despite repeated applications for membership.)
There are many benefits to being a permanent member of the Security Council: permanent rather than rotational membership (duh), a general increase in prestige and influence, and of course, veto power. Traditionally, China has been reluctant to use its veto, except with regard to issues that pertain directly to Chinese national interests. (The United States is the only nation to liberally use its veto, almost always against resolutions that are critical of Israel.)
There’s a lot of criticism of the Security Council today, and its general ineffectiveness, its strong bent towards the already powerful P5, the veto power itself…and the issue of geographic representation. As it stands, the permanent members of the Security Council have a heavy European bias. In fact, the only nation that represents a non-white majority is China, a country with a population that numbers over a billion. In light of that fact, I think the real question ought not to be why China is a member while India isn’t, but why all members except China are white Western nations. (Well, I suppose we know why: these are mostly former colonial powers that gained significant wealth through the exploitation of the “Global South”. But moving on…)
A number of nations have made cases to become permanent members. Japan and Germany were losing powers after World War II, but are now two of the largest economies in the world, and the two largest financial contributors to the UN after the United States. Germany has a powerful position in the EU, and Japan has the support of much of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands in its bid, through lobbying via financial aid.
However, India probably has the strongest case for becoming a permanent member:
- It’s the world’s largest democracy with a population that will eventually eclipse that of China.
- It’s part of an otherwise underrepresented region, with large unrepresented religions (Hinduism and Islam).
- It’s a large financial contributor, and a major contributor of UN Peacekeeping troops.
- It frequently serves as a non-permanent (rotational) member, and usually wins the votes of almost all member states in its bids for non-permanent positions.
- It has the backing of some major players (France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States–or President Obama, anyway), a number of European, Asian, and Latin American nations, and the African Union.
- It’s relatively trusted by the Muslim states, and the Security Council could probably use someone other than China that can negotiate in the Middle East.
However, there are a few obstacles:
- China – China’s position on India’s bid has always been…ambiguous. I think that its current position is that it’s open to consideration, but not ready to approve of India’s permanent membership. India-China relations are better now than they’ve been for some time, irrespective of the Kashmir can of worms, China’s ties with Pakistan, and other issues. However, China opposes Japan’s bid, which India supports, and China will likely not support India for as long as India continues to support Japan. (Confusingly worded, I know.)
- The United States – The official American policy has been, for some time, to oppose India’s permanent membership on the Security Council. Apparently this is because India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and possesses nuclear weapons–a source of great annoyance to the US. However, President Obama has declared support for India’s bid. It’s not clear what the US position is anymore, but we can be pretty sure that there will be no progress in the near future.
- Pakistan – Naturally, Pakistan opposes India’s bid, and while it doesn’t have as much influence in itself, it has close ties with both China and the United States (though recent events have thrown these alliances into question). Also, the very fact that India and Pakistan are embroiled in conflict that frequently appears on the Security Council agenda is an issue. (Although China is involved in more disputes, it manages to keep them off the agenda through its influence as a P5 member.)
- The structure of the Security Council itself – This is by far the biggest problem. India is already on the verge of having the verbal support of all the P5, yet there’s a very slim chance that it will gain a permanent seat anytime soon. This would mean an amendment o the UN Charter, which requires a two-third vote of general members, and the support of the P5. But whatever lip service the P5 may pay to supporting India, they will likely keep tabling the issue because allowing one country to join the permanent members sets a precedent that might open a floodgate and upset the power balance. Why change things when they are comfortable the way they are (if inefficient)? Wouldn’t it further legitimize the bids of other countries–Japan, Germany, Brazil, etc. all of whom seem to support each others’ bids as G4 nations? The UN can’t even seem to manage to raise the number of nonpermanent members on the Security Council, an issue that has been on the table for sometime. How many eons will it take for them to add the first new permanent member, if ever?
Will India get UN seat?
Most probably, it won’t. The only reason we haven’t gotten a seat on the UN Security Council despite being a Super Power is due to the Veto Power that is given to member countries already on the council. China has repeatedly blocked all attempts at us getting a seat on the council.
The stand taken by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is highly commendable. He has launched a full scale attempt at getting us a seat, but has also stated that India will no longer be begging for a seat on the council.
It will all depend on how the current member countries view India’s growth and decide. Even if any one member vetoes we will not get a seat.
A permanent seat in UNSC is a place coveted by many for many years. Here is advantages and disadvantages.
- A definite advantage will be the rise in reputation in addition to the coveted veto power (though its not sure if any new member will be allowed a veto power at this time).
- It will be a recognition of India’s significance in the world order of 21st century and
- Indian soldiers’ enormous contribution to peacekeeping operations.
- A major disadvantage would be that India would be force to engage in power politics and
- May be forced to take a stand in situations which now we can easily ignore. The sham of NAM will be finally over (finally :D). For example theIran Nuclear Issue. In case India was a permanent member of UNSC India would have been forced to choose between our (new found best friend) USA and our traditional ally (and petroleum producer) Iran. But not being a member of UNSC allowed us to have the best of both worlds. We engaged with US and only acceded to those sanctions mandated by UN against Iran.