For practically four and a half decades the work of United Nations had been impacted by the power contest between the two super powers namely the United States and the USSR. Post-disintegration of USSR, it was expected to return to the primary function of maintaining international peace and security, but the experience is not so optimistic.
Security Council –
- The Security Council is the main organ entrusted with the responsibility on issues relating to international peace and security. It reflected the power architecture prevailing at the end of the World War II. The victors and their proxies including the US, the UK, USSR, France and China were permanent members with veto powers.
- Other members called non-permanent members had a term of two years at one time without consecutive re-election. The veto power gave over riding authority to permanent members to take decisions even against majority.
Reforms of UNSC –
- The majority of the United Nations in 1991 called for reforms which included mainly the reforms and restructuring of the Security Council including expansion in membership in both the permanent and non-permanent category as well as review of veto powers, revitalisation of the General Assembly providing for greater powers to receive full reports from other principal organs including the Security Council and making recommendations even on the issues relating to international peace and security, greater focus on developmental agenda of the United Nations etc.
- The expansion in the membership of Security Council was to reflect the changed realities of much higher number UN members in 1991 as compared to 1945 and greater contribution from non-permanent members in UN activities in maintenance of international peace and security through its peacekeeping operations.
- The 1991 was also witness to rise of emerging powers such as China, India and Asian tigers, primarily in economic areas but also in the political and strategic influence they exercised.
Resistance to reforms –
- The expectations of UN reforms were stymied because the end of Cold War did not lead to democratisation of the United Nations.
- The permanent members which were the most influential members like a cabinet, obviously would not want to relinquish or dilute their hold on the power structures resulting in the process of Security Council restructuring and expansion having dragged on for almost three decades.
- The work of the General Assembly which before 1991 had functioned effectively in eradicating colonisation in the world and apartheid in South Africa, seems to have become even more marginalised than before.
- Even the areas such as humanitarian assistance and developmental agenda have been linked to international peace and security leading to new ideas and resolutions such as R2P providing the security council with unprecedented authority even in area which were traditionally the preserve of the GA or ECOSOC.
- Constitution of International Criminal Court provided the Security Council with further leverages to guide work of other UN agencies.
Need for reforms –
- As more number of nations being decolonised, there are sharp contrast between the number of seats and the total number of member states.
- Reform is needed to remove the “Democratic Deficit”.
- It has failed to tackle the recent crisis of Syria, Gaza and Ukraine.
- Need to make it efficient, effective, credible and a legitimate body.
The democratisation of the United Nations and thus the reforms would continue to elude the members till such time as the emerging powers such as India are involved in the effective decision making in organs where it matters such as the Security Council.
Organs of the United Nations – The work of the United Nations had been entrusted to several principal organs namely the General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC, the Trusteeship Council and the International Court of Justice.
Q- India seems determined to pursue its quest for the Security Council reforms. Examine the journey of reforms of the United Nations and the impediments that India faces in this power push in the ever-changing international order.