New Delhi: In a strong clarion call for the reform of the UN Security Council, India on Friday said the UN’s top organ can deliver effective solutions only if it gives voice to the voiceless rather than “zealously guarding the status quo of the mighty” as it cautioned that the “narrow representation and privileges of a few” poses serious challenge to its credibility.
“At the core of India’s call for reformed multilateralism, lies the reform of the UN Security Council, reflective of the contemporary realities of today. When power structures continue to reflect the status quo of a bygone era, they also start reflecting a lack of appreciation of contemporary geopolitical realities,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.
Addressing the Security Council high-level meeting on ‘Maintenance of international peace and security: upholding multilateralism and the United Nations-centred international system’, held under the Council Presidency of permanent and veto-wielding member China, Shringla said the Council “can deliver effective solutions only if it gives a voice to the voiceless rather than zealously guarding the status quo of the mighty.”
He underlined that multilateral institutions must be made more accountable to their membership, they must be open and welcoming to a diversity of viewpoints and cognisant of new voices.
“The Council must be made more representative of developing countries if it is to continue to engender trust and confidence in its ability to provide leadership to the entire world,” Shringla said.
India, currently a non-permanent member of the Council serving a two-year term, told the high-level meeting that even though the UN membership has increased nearly fourfold from 1945 to 193 Member States, the “narrow representation and privileges of a few in the primary decision-making organ of the UN poses a serious challenge to its credibility and effectiveness.
“How can we explain the contradiction of Africa not being represented in the Security Council in the permanent category, even though African issues dominate its agenda?” Shringla said.
Shringla asserted that a “renewal of vows” towards a reformed UN-centered multilateral system will require genuine efforts on behalf of all Member States.
“For its part, India has always sought to strengthen the forces of cooperative multilateralism.” Shringla said the UN has been found wanting in its ability to garner a concerted response to tackle the world’s most complex challenges.
“Several contemporary global challenges have come to the fore such as terrorism, radicalism, pandemics, climate change, threats from new and emerging technologies, growing asymmetric threats, disruptive role of non-state actors and the intensifying geopolitical competition, all of which call for a robust multilateral response,” he said, adding that the “multitude of challenges” of today’s dynamic and interdependent world cannot be addressed with “outdated systems” that were designed to deal with the challenges of the past.
He lamented that while the UN has addressed most of these issues somewhat partially and intermittently, “our collective effort has nonetheless fallen short in providing effective and enduring solutions, primarily due to the infirmities within the multilateral system.”
Shringla highlighted that as a founding member of the UN, India has consistently displayed its commitment to upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
“We remain committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by international law, premised upon respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Member States, resolution of international disputes through peaceful negotiations and free and open access for all to the global commons,” he said.
Shringla referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the 75th anniversary of the UN last year in which he had given a clarion call for UN reform and asked for how long will India be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations.
“Reform in the responses, in the processes, and in the very character of the UN is the need of the hour. It is a fact that the faith and respect that the UN enjoys among the 1.3 billion people in India is unparalleled,” Modi had said.
Shringla further said that India has stood at the forefront during the UN’s tumultuous years of struggle against colonialism and apartheid and during its eight terms as member of the Security Council, New Delhi has always endeavoured to be “a voice of reason and understanding, a voice of the underrepresented developing word, a bridge-builder for narrowing divides and fostering consensus.”
At the UN, India has have been the leading advocate of the concerns and aspirations of developing countries and the creation of a more equitable international economic and political order, he said, adding that India has contributed immensely to maintaining international peace and security as a leading troop contributing country towards UN Peacekeeping Missions, having sacrificed the highest number of lives in this noble endeavour.
On climate action, India is today one of the few countries on track to meet its mitigation commitments under the Paris Agreement and the country has also taken the lead in launching important multilateral initiatives on climate action like the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, he said.