Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening made a strong pitch for a more prominent role in the UN Security Council – the global body’s highest decision-making forum, for India, asking “Till when do we have to wait? Till when will India be kept away from the UN’s decision-making process?”
“When we were weak, we didn’t trouble the world. When we became strong, we didn’t become a bojh (burden) on the world. Till when do we have to wait? India has sent soldiers to UN peace-keeping missions and has lost the most number of soldiers,” the Prime Minister said in powerful opening remarks.
“The ideals of the United Nations and India’s main principles are similar. Vasudev Kutumbakam (the world is one family) has echoed in UN halls many times. India has always thought about the welfare of the world,” he said.
PM Modi, who was addressing the General Assembly virtually via a pre-recorded speech, reminded the UN that 130 crore Indians still believed in its ideals, but said the global body needed to adapt and change to stay relevant in current times.
“Reform is needed at the United Nations and India is waiting for that reform to happen,” the Prime Minister said.
The Security Council (UNSC) is the UN’s highest-decision making forum and the only one that can make legally-binding decisions like imposing sanctions. There are five permanent members – the US, the UK, China, Russia and France, each of whom has veto powers.
India, which has previously served seven terms as a non-permanent and elected member was re-elected for a two-year term in June (the term starts January 1, 2021) along with Ireland, Mexico and Norway.
On India’s re-election Prime Minister Modi tweeted that the country was “deeply grateful for overwhelming support (from) the global community for India’s membership of the UN Security Council”.
Deeply grateful for the overwhelming support shown by the global community for India’s membership of the @UN Security Council. India will work with all member countries to promote global peace, security, resilience and equity.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 18, 2020
However, India has long sought a fixed role and revamp of the current system.
Last week the government said it was according “highest priority” to getting a permanent seat on a UNSC that “reflects contemporary global realities”.
India has been supported in that bid by four of the five permanent members, including the United States. In February President Donald Trump said he was committed to working with India to strengthen and reform the UN.
There is however, “a section in the UN that supports expansion only in the non-permanent category”, V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, told parliament, in a veiled reference to China.
After India’s re-election as a non-permanent member, China said it would like to enhance cooperation with all parties but did not comment on the drive for a permanent seat.
On Wednesday, the grouping of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) expressed “frustration” over the “slow” pace of progress on reform of the Security Council and said the time had come to move towards a result-oriented process to expand the key global body.
The three countries, in a joint statement, strongly called for expediting reform of the UNSC, saying any failure to do so may have serious implications for international peace and security.
Apart from pitching for the permanent seat on the Security Council, in today’s speech the Prime Minister also said India would help the world fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the largest vaccine-producing country I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” he said, adding, “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis”.