Despite the fact that India has served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) more often than any country other than Japan from the Asia-Pacific Group, it is a matter of satisfaction and a tribute to Indian diplomacy that the Group unanimously decided this year to support India for an eighth second-year term.
Fast-changing dynamics –
To anticipate what issues will arise during India’s tenure two and three years down the road, in the highest decision-making organ concerned with peace and conflict in the global organization, is clearly problematic. The dynamics of international politics are fast-moving.
- The Washington consensus of the post-Soviet era, if it ever truly existed, has unravelled in the wake of three factors: tensions between major powers; proxy wars in West Asia, and widespread and scattershot use of threat and economic sanctions by the United States which pursues a militarized foreign policy with a military and intelligence presence in 150 countries, and 800 bases in 70 nations.
- The rise of China and the bogey of Russian aggression are resisted through military and economic measures by Washington, which urges its usually reluctant European allies and others to follow suit. The race is on for supremacy in artificial intelligence, high technology and 5G which will have strategic significance in future decades.
- With the possible re-election of President Donald Trump, the ‘America First’ doctrine will endure in some form since it has the support of a sizeable constituency in that country. This makes U.S. foreign policy more transactional, which in turn will generate less traction to the reform process within the UN and the expansion of permanent membership of the UNSC to which India aspires.
How India should utilise the opportunity?
India is one of the world’s biggest economies. Accordingly, its voice resonates and is capable of making a significant contribution during its tenure by emphasising and strengthening multilateralism as a means of making the world safer.
- India needs to uphold the objective of a multipolar world and counter existing trends towards unilateralism, ethnocentrism, protectionism and racial intolerance. It should seek to protect the World Trade Organisation from American attempts to undermine it, since the WTO’s dispute mechanism is a resource for developing countries, as is the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the UN Human Rights Council and other UN bodies despite the U.S. and a few other countries withdrawing support to them.
- India should attempt to make progress on the non-discriminatory elimination of weapons of mass destruction, protection of the environment against global warming, safeguarding outer space from weaponisation, and enhancing respect for diversity and plurality in world politics.
- India should underline the validity of Article 2 of the UN Charter that provides for state sovereignty and safeguards countries against outside interference in the domestic affairs of other states.
- In upholding respect for a rules-based order in international society, India should underline the sanctity of treaties such as the multilateral accord with Iran endorsed by the Security Council and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Way forward –
New Delhi will feel in the next few years that its time has come for a major role in the world stage, but the big player status will be difficult without India being pivotal in the South Asian region. In this respect, India’s regional status is insufficiently credible. Accordingly, on all issues before the UNSC, India must give exceptional weightage as to how they will have an impact on the Indian subcontinent.
Demosthenes in Fourth Century BC Athens stated that diplomats had “no battleships at their disposal… their weapons are words and opportunities”. India’s presence on the UNSC will present opportunities to enhance the country’s reputation. India should aim to end its eighth term on the Council with its merit- and legality-based judgments intact and widely respected.
Source – The Hindu