India and the UNSC


Editor’s note:

This paper deals with the role of United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which was formulated post World War II, as is one of the principal organs of the UN. It also highlights certain criticisms that the UNSC faces, one of which being extensive powers of the P-5 members. It also suggests certain reforms, and analyses India’s role in the Security Council and India’s bid to be part of the Security Council as a permanent member.

Security Council

The United Nations (UN) was formed on October 24, 1945 after the mass destruction that the world saw during the Second World War. The Second World War ended with the dropping of nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This kind of destruction was never seen before and it was realised that if this kind of war happens again then the life at Earth will cease to exist. In order to promote peace and security this organisation was formed. One of its primary objectives includes maintenance of world peace and security and to promote friendly relations among nations. It has six principal organs and Security Council is one of them. The Security Council is entrusted to achieve the most primary objective of UN that is the maintenance of international peace and security. The council is composed of 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members. The 10 non-permanent members are elected for a period of two years by the General Assembly. The council has been given vast range of powers. While other organs of the UN can only make recommendations to the member states, the Security Council under Article 25 of the UN Charter is empowered to take decisions which will be binding on all the member states.[1] The Council is empowered to order mandatory sanctions, call for ceasefires and to take military actions against the aggressor on behalf of the UN. The council also has a role in the admission of new members of the UN, the appointment of the Secretary-General and the election of the judges to the International Court of Justice.[2]  It is in view of these powers that the Security Council assumes great significance. In view of these powers and due to the greater role of maintaining world peace and order it is necessary for the UNSC to be a fair, legitimate, impartial and global body. However, it has largely failed in these aspects and it is in this context that the criticisms of UNSC must be looked into.

Criticism of the role of the UNSC

It has been said by various scholars that of all the organs of the United Nations none has been a big failure as Security Council, it has shown a great discrepancy between promise and performance.[3] There has been criticism that the five permanent members of the Security Council who are all nuclear powers have created an exclusive nuclear club whose powers are unchecked.[4]  Unlike the General Assembly which truly represents the interests of all the member states, the Security Council represents the interest and domination of only the five permanent members which includes China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Another criticism of the UNSC includes the veto power exercised by the five permanent members. For passing any resolution, the approval of all the five permanent members is necessary and even if one of the members says no the resolution cannot be passed. This right to veto has been misused by the members. For example, recently Russia has annexed Crimea by way of a referendum. Russia vetoed a U.N resolution which declared the referendum as illegal. Thus, the member states have been using this privilege for their respective states.

The other significant criticism is that the Security Council has failed to accommodate changes which have occurred since 1945. The important weakness of the UNSC as it stands today is that the United Nations is often at odds with the contemporary reality, because it has not shifted from the international power structure of 1945.[5] It has often been said that the Security Council is not representative of the geopolitical realities of the modern world. “Both Africa and Latin America lack a permanent seat on the Council, while Europe is overrepresented and Asia is underrepresented.[6] In view of these discrepancies, the demand for expansion of the UNSC has been consistently raised.

UNSC Expansion

To make the UNSC more democratic and representative, the demand for expansion of the Security Council has been raised quite significantly. The G4 group comprising of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan have made the strongest demand for expansion of the permanent seats. Japan and Germany, the main defeated powers in World War II are now one of the most industrialised and largest economies of the world. They are also the second and third largest contributor to the UN Budget.[7] They are also the second and third largest funders of the United Nations, while Brazil and India are two of the largest contributors of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions.[8] Of these, India is the largest democracy of the world and is actively involved in UN peace-keeping operations. It is in this regard, that India’s bid for expansion of the Security Council gets important. Before that, India’s role in the Security Council needs to be looked upon into.

India’s role in the Security Council

India was among the original members of the United Nations that signed the declaration of the United Nations and also participated in the historic conference United Nations Conference of International Organization at San Francisco which resulted in the creation of the United Nations charter.[9] As one of the founding members of the UN, India has been actively involved in the implementation of the goals of the UN charter which includes promotion of world peace, encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedom of all.

India has served as non-permanent member of the Security Council seven times. In 2010, India was selected as member with a backing of 187 out of 192 countries which itself speaks of India’s stature in the United Nations.[10] India has been associated with UN peace keeping operations since its inception itself and has been the largest troop contributor. India has contributed nearly 160,000 troops, participated in more than 43 missions.[11]

Apart from the peace-keeping operations India also took active part in drafting of the Universal Declaration on human rights. India is party to six core human rights conventions.[12] India has always been on the forefront in fight against colonialism, apartheid and racial discrimination. India was the first country to raise the issue of apartheid and racial discrimination being practised in the South Africa. Recently, during the Arab uprising India stood very responsibly and counselled restraint on the question of military intervention and emphasised the importance of undertaking well-planned and adequately resourced UN missions, thus upholding its role as a guardian of the UN charter.[13]

With the view of enlarging the UNSC permanent members so as to make it more representative, India being the second most populous and seventh largest country of the world has demanded to become permanent member of the Security Council.

India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC

India, the land of Gandhi and Buddha who gave the principles of non-violence and peace stands as a strong candidate for permanent seat in the UNSC. No other country reflects such diversity as India does. The primary purpose of United Nations is maintenance of peace among nations which comprises of diverse cultures and religion. India is a perfect example of such model. Also, India is the second largest growing economy of the world after China.

But the chances of this demand getting accepted are very bleak. Considering the factor that since its inception, the number of permanent members in the UNSC has never been increased. The permanent five members who include China are opposed to the idea of expansion of the Security Council. However, with the continuously changing world order and the rise of India as a super-power this demand should be continuously pressed upon.

India has basically followed two strategies for the expansion of the Security Council. “The first focuses on a narrow major-power claim, which emphasises India’s capabilities and contributions to the UNSC as the basis for permanent membership”.[14] This approach is based on the criteria’s of population, territorial size, diversity, political system and various other factors.

The second approach basically focuses on the “problem of representation in the UNSC and makes the case for expanding both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership with a view to ensuring that the world’s foremost organisation for international peace and security reflects the dramatically altered distribution of power since 1945.[15]

Edited by Neerja Gurnani


[2] The United Nations Security Council and War Edited by Vaughan Lowe Adam Roberts Jennifer Welsh Dominik Zaum Oxford University Press 2008 page 1

[3] United Nations as a political institution by H.G Nicholas 4th edition oxford university press 1971 page 72


[5] India and the UN security council july 20, 2013 rohan Mukherjee, david m malone








[13] India and the UN security council

[14] ibid

[15] ibid

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