Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 12 April 2024

Reformed UNSC isn’t possible without India as a permanent member

Relevance: GS Paper II

Why in News?

At a time when India is seriously advocating structural and functional reforms in the United Nations, the global forum’s president, Dennis Francis, has expressed optimism about India’s potential to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Need for comprehensive reforms within the UN:

  • During his speech at the 76th UNGA in 2021, the Prime Minister of India emphasised the need for "comprehensive UN reforms" and urged the international community to acknowledge that "outdated structures" cannot effectively address current challenges.
  • Climate change, the fight against terrorism, and achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) were not prioritised in the UN's agenda when it was first established seventy years ago. These issues have become pressing and urgent today.
  • The aftermath of World War 2 has resulted in several conflicts that continue to disrupt global peace and economic progress.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the world's health infrastructure.
  • The UN's current highly polarised and outdated structure is ill-equipped to succeed in a multipolar world. It is imperative that the countries should work together to prevent the misuse of selective veto power by members with hegemonic objectives.

Contradictions in global attitudes towards India’s permanent seat:

  • In 2023, leading up to the end of India's presidency of the G20, India's foreign minister expressed a positive global response to India's candidature for the UNSC permanent seat.
  • In bilateral talks between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the USA, a joint India-US statement reiterated India's position that global governance should be more inclusive and representative through a reformed UN Security Council.
    • In the statement US welcomed India's candidature for the UNSC non-permanent seat in 2028-29.
    • The US is not alone in advocating the expansion of non-permanent membership of the UNSC.
  • The Uniting for Consensus (UFC) group, consisting of twelve countries, has proposed expanding the number of non-permanent elected members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from 15 to 26.
    • The UFC group was formed in 1990 with the aim of opposing the creation of new permanent national seats.
      • The group argues that the current status of the P5 members results from historical circumstances after World War 2, and any reform that would create additional and unjustifiable privileged positions within the international community would be detrimental to the general interest of the UN membership.
  • Countries in the West, particularly the United States - a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, appear insincere when they speak about enhancing democracy and combating terrorism while simultaneously excluding India, one of the oldest members of the UN and the largest democracy, from the high table comprising of the P5 countries, two of which are not democracies.
  • China is the biggest stumbling block in India’s quest for a permanent seat in the UNSC.

China’s role in UNSC reform resolution:

  • Italy-China coordination in UFC:
    • In 2023, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy met his Chinese counterpart to discuss bilateral agreements and the war in Ukraine. 
      • Incidentally, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy expressed his appreciation for the fruitful and constant link between China and Italy concerning the UNSC reform and their coordination within the UFC group, of which China has been appointed observer.
    • With China as an observer, neither India nor those who wish to see genuine reforms and expansion of the P5 should have any hope of justice.
  • China opposing G4 Group:
    • In 2023, the G4 Group of India, Brazil, Japan, and Germany met during the 78th UNGA to discuss the UN reform process. They focused on expanding the P5.
      • The group aims to modernise the UN's structure, which is a legacy of World War 2.
    • However, China, Russia, and South Korea oppose Japan's inclusion in the G4 and ask Japan to take responsibility for its actions during World War 2.
    • This has led to a disagreement between the countries regarding Japan's inclusion in the G4.

China owes a debt of gratitude to India:

  • Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru played a significant role in China's inclusion as a permanent member. It is notable that The US informally offered India the UNSC seat in 1950 and then the Soviet Union in 1955.
    • In his letter to his sister and India's representative in the UN, Vijayalakshmi, Nehru emphasised China's importance in the larger scheme of “Nehruvian Foreign Policy.”.
    • However, China's aggressive actions towards Tibet in 1950 and 1959, as well as its attack on India in 1962, shattered Nehru's belief that China was too significant to be ignored by the international community.
    • India bears the responsibility of not only restoring Tibet to Tibetans but also freeing other areas, such as Xinjiang and Pakistan-occupied Indian territory.
  • As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China should not forget the circumstances that led to its membership and must recognise its obligations to India.


The global community should recognise that unless the United Nations (UN) undergoes restructuring and democratisation, free from the constraints of its historical past, and adapts to the present geopolitical realities of multilateralism, achieving peace and prosperity will remain a distant dream. There is an urgent need for a more relevant, credible, and representative UN 2.0 to ensure peace and security.


Mains PYQ:

Q. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UNSC. (UPSC 2015)

Book A Free Counseling Session