UNSC : Way Forward for India – UPSC GS2

Context: India has begun its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1 2021.
India’s Tenure in UNSC: Since the end of cold war
  • 1st Tenure(1991-92):
    • Global scenario: Collapse of the Soviet Union, end of the Cold War and Russia’s turn to the United States (US) and the West – An era of Great Power Cooperation
      • China was opening its economy and keeps a low profile in the unipolar moment.
    • Indian Scenario: Broken economy and political bush fires.
    • Contemporary objectives of countries:
      • Western countries: Geopolitical overreach at the UN.
      • Liberal countries: sought to transform the “inter-national” forum into a “supra-national” institution that would actively reshape the domestic structures of different societies.
      • India: To resist the external imposition of solutions to its manifold problems — especially on the Kashmir question and the nuclear issue.
  • 2nd Tenure(2011-12):
    • Global Scenario: Revival of Russia and the rise of China.
    • Indian Scenario: Less defensive than in the 1990’s due to rapid economic growth.
  • 3rd Tenure(present):
    • Global Scenario: Differences between the US, China, and Russia have become intractable as China becomes a great power and Russia moved closer to China.
    • Indian Scenario: Change in attitude from reactive to proactive.
What should be India’s attempt at UNSC?
  • Make UNSC “effective”:  UNSC is less effective due to deep divisions among major powers.
    • It should be effective since it offers room for sustained diplomatic interaction between the major powers, who could minimise tensions and create new opportunities for cooperation.
  • Make UNSC more “representative”: Partnership with Brazil, Germany and Japan, to expand the UNSC must continue.
  • “Work with” China with an open mind:  It is important to deal with Pakistan and to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • Engage with peace and security issues at the UNSC: It will allow India to strengthen its new coalitions such as the Quad — which brings together Australia, India, Japan and the US.
  • Improve ties with partners: like France and Germany in the security arena, find common ground with “Global Britain”, engage with Russia irrespective of its problems with west and closer ties with China.
  • Revitalise engagement with the “global south”: By articulating their peace and security concerns in the UNSC.
    • E.g. Support the sovereignty and survivability of the island states that face existential challenges from global warming and rising sea levels.
    • Improve ties with Africa: Nearly half of UNSC meetings, 60 %of its documents, and 70 % of its resolutions are about peace and security in Africa. It has three seats in the UNSC (Kenya, Niger and Tunisia)
Conclusion:  In sum, India should integrate its UNSC engagement with broader national goals while adapting to changed realities.

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