NEW YORK: A thousands visions and revisions later, the reform of the UN Security Council still remains a chimera, embroiled in endless vacillation. Against this backdrop, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj joined hands with her counterparts from other G4 countries to push hard for the expansion of the UNSC, which is looking more like an anachronism in view of the seismic shift of power from the west to the rest in the 21st century.
Meeting on the sidelines of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York September 25, India’s Swaraj and her counterparts, Brazil’s Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, voiced their collective concern at the festering stalemate in the seemingly labyrinthine process of the reform of the Security Council.
In a joint statement, the G4 ministers underlined the urgency of expanding the UNSC to make it reflective of “the geopolitical realities of the 21st century.” They contended that the Security Council reform process must proceed apace without further delay, to make it “more broadly representative, efficient and transparent.” This, the ministers underscored, is necessary to enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.
Deadline: September, 2015
The collective sense of the mounting frustration at the excruciatingly slow pace of the UNSC reforms was palpable during their discussions. “The Ministers voiced their concern that, 70 years after the foundation of the United Nations, 50 years after the first and only time that the Security Council was reformed, nearly 15 years after the Millennium Summit and 10 years after the 2005 World Summit – when our leaders unanimously called for an early reform of the Security Council – discussions are still at a stalemate,” said the joint statement. Tired of the endless exercise which is bogged down in technical quibbles and status quoist propaganda warfare, the ministers sought to rally the world community to look at the 2015 deadline to achieve the reform and expansion of the UNSC in both permanent and non-permanent categories. The much-delayed reform, they indicated, would reclaim the UN’s legitimacy on the 70th anniversary of the world body.
The G4 ministers’ meeting ended with the four countries expressing support for each other’s candidatures and reaffirming their support for developing countries, including from Africa, to be represented in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of an enlarged Council.
In his maiden speech at the UNGA, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make a forceful pitch for reform of the UNSC and present a compelling case for the inclusion of India in an expanded and rejuvenated Security Council.
The G4 foreign ministers’ meeting has become a predictable annual exercise on the margins of the UNGA. One has heard all these eloquent arguments before, but it’s time to take the process of the UNSC reforms to its logical conclusion. The next critical step will be to launch the text-based negotiations at the 70th session of the UNGA; this deadline must be strictly adhered to if the reform process has to acquire a critical mass. Besides the inter-governmental efforts, one also needs a multi-pronged public outreach, including a more proactive involvement of the civil society, academia and media to generate pressure for the reform of the world body, which alone could guarantee its relevance and buttress its effectiveness in a conflicted international landscape.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.