Sunday, April 14, 2024

With UNSC ‘crumbling’, India says ‘naysayers’ should be stopped from blocking reform

With the Security Council “crumbling under the weight of 21st-century geopolitical realities”, India has said that “naysayers” should be stopped from blocking its reform.

The negotiations for reforming the Council that was started 14 years ago should be made to deliver concrete outcomes within a fixed time frame, Pratik Mathur, a counsellor at India’s Mission, said on Tuesday at a meeting on revitalising the General Assembly.

“Naysayers cannot be allowed to hold the intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) process hostage in perpetuity,” he said referring to the machinery set up by the Assembly for Council reform.

He said that the reform negotiations should adopt a text-based process and not be blocked by procedural tactics.

The IGN is stalled because it has been prevented from adopting a negotiating text that would form the basis of discussions to progress by setting a firm agenda and recording the points of convergence and divergence that need to be worked on.

A 12-member group of countries known as Uniting for Consensus, which is led by Italy and has Pakistan as a leading member, has used procedural tactics to prevent the adoption of a negotiating text because they oppose expanding the permanent membership of the Council, a demand of the majority of UN’s 193 members.

Mathur said that there was “widespread recognition that the current architecture is anachronistic, and indeed ineffective” and in a reference to the exclusion of Africa and Latin America from permanent membership he said that it was “deeply unfair” as it denied “entire continents and regions of voice in a forum that deliberates their future”.

“We need an all-encompassing comprehensive reform process, which includes expansion of categories, both permanent as well as non-permanent seats in the Security Council”, he said.

The basic architecture of the Council is stuck in the post-World War II scenario when the five victors assumed permanent membership and veto powers that came with it for themselves and the UN’s membership was 51 while most of the world was under the colonial yoke of two permanent members.

The Council’s veto and the relationship between the Assembly and the Council should also be considered against “the backdrop of the prevailing global scenario”, he said.

The Council is ineffective in the two major contemporary conflicts, Ukraine and Gaza, unable to even demand a cease-fire because of the veto powers of the permanent members.

The Council is “crumbling” and it “has turned some of the tide towards the General Assembly, giving us more face time and traction, where the voice of Global South is a formidable force, unlike what is the case in the Security Council,” Mathur said.

Even though the Assembly has no enforcement powers, it took steps to make the permanent members of the Council morally answerable for the exercise of veto powers.

Whenever a permanent member vetoes resolutions at the Council, it now has to appear before the Assembly and explain its action while also facing criticism from other UN members.

The Assembly has also passed resolutions echoing the sentiments of the vetoed Council resolutions by large majorities.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed at @arulouis)

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