A strategy for India's reformed multilateralism (07 November 2022)
The visit of Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to the United States has set the stage for India to engage in a broad spectrum of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. It is a one-of-a-kind tour that aims to accomplish a wide range of goals, including the Indian delegation's participation in the High-Level Week during the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Following the recently finished Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Samarkand, which the Prime Minister attended, India's diverse international engagements provide a road map for India’s renewed multilateral diplomacy.
The UN Security Council:
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the United Nations' six main organs (UN).
UN Security Council mandates:
- Maintaining international peace and security.
- recommending that new UN members be admitted to the General Assembly
- Any amendments to the UN Charter must be approved.
- launching peacekeeping operations
- implementing international sanctions
- approving military action
The UN Security Council is the only UN body having the capacity to impose binding resolutions on member countries. Its headquarter is in New York.
- The council is made up of 15 members: 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members who are chosen for 2-year periods.
- The United States, Russia, France, China, and the United Kingdom are the five permanent members.
- The General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of a total of ten) for a two-year term each year. The 10 non-permanent seats are allocated regionally. India is now a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years, from 2021 to 2022.
- The president of the council is a monthly rotating position among its 15 members.
- Each Security Council member gets one vote. The Security Council makes decisions by an affirmative vote of nine members, including the permanent members' concurring votes. A "No" vote from one of the five permanent members prevents the resolution from being passed. This is known as the P5 group's veto authority (Permanent 5 members of UNSC).
- Any member of the United Nations who is not a member of the Security Council may participate, without voting, in the consideration of any subject brought before the Security Council if the latter believes that that member's interests are particularly jeopardized.
The flaws of the UN
- Multilateralism headed by the United Nations has been unable to offer sufficient procedures to avert conflicts. Since the battle began in February of this year, the shadow of the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict has loomed large over many deadlocks in UN Security Council decisions. With the West boycotting Russia, the UN Security Council's veto provision is projected to become even more obsolete than in the past. As a result, reformed multilateralism with increased representation may produce deeper regional stakes in order to avert conflicts.
- China's aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific region has highlighted the shortcomings of UN-style multilateralism. China's expanding supremacy may drive it to create its own international matrix, economically and strategically bypassing the West. The international isolation of Russia and Iran, as well as the United States, increased Taiwan-related activities, may hasten these changes.
- China's open use of veto power against India at the UN continues. In the most recent instance, it obstructed a joint India-US effort at the UN to designate Sajid Mir, a prominent Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative implicated in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as a 'global terrorist.'
- India's demand for UNSC reform has strengthened in recent years, in line with the changing circumstances. In this context, Mr. Jaishankar's hosting of a G4 ministerial summit (Brazil, India, Germany, and Japan) is significant.
India is also a member of multilateral organizations including as
- Quad (Australia, India, Japan, the U.S.).
- IBSA stands for India, Brazil, and South Africa.
- BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).
- India-CARICOM (Caribbean Community).
- Trilateral formats such as India-France-Australia, India-France-UAE, and India-Indonesia-Australia
The Future Perspectives: Restructuring the Security Council
- The plea for reformed multilateralism,' through which the United Nations Security Council should remodel itself into a more inclusive organization representing today's reality, is at the core of India's participation in the 77th General Assembly. India's appeal for structural reform of global multilateral organizations includes institutional accountability and broader representation of emerging countries.
- In India's desire for UN reform, at least three recent global developments reflecting the UN's functional review have stood out. The COVID-19 epidemic was a low point for the United Nations multilateralism. When nations closed their borders, supply lines were disrupted, and practically every country needed vaccines, it revealed the UN's institutional shortcomings.
- Countries in the global South, such as India, have made room for a more inclusive UN, notably through the reform of the Security Council (UNSC).
- The emphasis on revitalized multilateralism by India coincides with a key moment in UN-led multilateralism. Just as burden-sharing has become an essential component of increasing multilateralism among regional governments, the UN might include similar practices into its institutional framework.
Far beyond the UN, the Minister's engagement in plurilateral meetings highlights India's search for new global governance frameworks in the face of rising dissatisfaction with the existing multilateral system. As Mr. Jaishankar correctly stated in his speech at the UN, New Delhi continues to reassert its commitment to "diplomacy and the necessity for multilateral collaboration" at a difficult moment for the world order.