Global campaign needed to back Security Council expansion: Indian Permanent Representative

United Nations, Dec 19 (IANS) With negotiations on expanding and reforming the Security Council entering a crucial phase next year, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji suggested Friday that an international campaign should be launched to mobilise support for it from the Indian diaspora, civil society organisations and businesses around the world.

The backing of UN member nations will be needed to make the final push for reforms and have it voted, he told reporters here. For this India should tap into the various constituencies that can influence their governments and lawmakers, he said.

Mukerji, who retires at the end of this year, steered lobbying efforts at the UN to break a decades-old logjam in the reform process by having a negotiating text adopted unanimously by the General Assembly overcoming sustained opposition from a small, but determined groups of countries. Without the text, which lays out the framework for negotiations, the reform discussion could not proceed in a meaningful way and Council expansion opponents used it block the reform process.

With the negotiating text in place, the negotiations are scheduled resume on February 3, according to Luxembourg Permanent Representative Sylvie Lucas, the chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiation (IGN) on Council reform. In a letter circulated by Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, she said she wants the negotiating text to “spark constructive and substantive engagement towards seeking convergences.a¿

The Feb. 3 meeting, she wrote, would start by taking up the “key issue of the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.a¿

Mukerji welcomed her reiteration of her commitment to adhere to the negotiating text and move the negotiations forward.

“We have to tap into the support of the Indian diaspora,a¿ Mukerji said, outlining the elements of a strategy for a decisive push for reforms as negotiations resume. “We have to have them reach out to their lawmakers.a¿

He identified civil society organisations are another constituency that should be rallied to the cause. “We should take a leaf out of the Paris playbook,a¿ he said, referring to the recent climate change conference in the French capital where civil society groups backed the demands of India and other developing countries for fair treatment and preserving their right to development.

Another important lobby for pushing Council reforms are businesses, Mukkerji said. “Why not have an advocate for Security Council reforms like Bill Gates?a¿

He explained that there is a strong linkage between businesses and peace, and the Council had the principal role in maintaining peace a” a task in which it had failed in many places. Businesses should be made to realise how this role of the Council directly impacts them.

Mukerji gave the example of the crises in Yemen and Somalia, which the Council has failed so far to contain. If they worsened further the Suez Canal would be at risk an end up disrupting international trade as ships would have to take the long route around the Cape of Good Hope adding a tremendous cost for businesses, he said.

The international sanctions imposed by the Council and how they are administered also impact businesses, he said.

India is not seeking permanent membership of the Council as a “badge of honoura¿ but as a matter that affects India deeply in areas ranging from terrorism to development, he said.

Unless India is a member of the Council it could not affect the way it operates and the priorities it sets, he said. In dealing with terrorism, for example, the Council focuses only on certain regions at a cost to India and it does not apply sanctions against terrorists and their supporters uniformly, he said.

Although India is historically the biggest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, it is seldom consulted by the Council on the mandates it issues, even though the UN Charter provides for it, he said. This disregard for troop-contributing countries puts soldiers from India and other countries at risk, he said.

Agenda 2030, the ambitious development goals set by the UN for the next 15 years, needed peace and stability and the Council had to ensure them, he said.

As the Council’s working affects India in so many ways, Mukerji said, it was essential for India to have a permanent Council seat and it was not a matter of prestige, he said.

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