Speaking at the fifth Raisina Dialogue recently, an annual conference held in New Delhi to discuss geopolitical and economic issues, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that India should be given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Lavrov cited the underrepresentation of developing countries as the primary reason for its support, saying: “We are convinced that the overriding trend of the global development is the objective process of the formation of new centres of economic might, financial power, and political influence and India is one them.” In addition to giving support for India’s permanent membership, Russia also expressed support for Brazil and an African country to get permanent seats.
The composition of the five permanent UN Security Council members – China, Russia, the U.K., France, and the U.S. – has stayed the same (except through internal regime change) since the Council was formed in 1945. With these countries possessing a constant veto power that can block Security Council resolutions, being a permanent member gives a high level of influence over collective global peace and security initiatives. Instating a new permanent member would require support from two-thirds of the UN members as well as the five existing permanent members. This means that despite the composition of permanent seats no longer representing the growing economic and political influence of developing countries, institutional rigidity persists because the permanent members do not readily seek to extend their power to a new country.
However, with India being one of the fastest-growing economies in recent years, they seem to be first in line for permanency with all members except China having given their support to India in recent years. While this would be a big victory for developing countries, India’s recent human rights track record with the ongoing conflict in Kashmir raises questions over whether India should be granted permanency. Particularly of concern is the potential for India to use its veto power to prevent any UN intervention to guide peaceful solutions in the region. Disputes in the Kashmir region have caused three wars between India and Pakistan (who are both nuclear states) and it seems likely that giving India veto power in the Council would escalate instability in the region further.
However, suggesting the inherent danger of Indian permanency is not to say that the existing permanent members have not abused their veto previously to block resolutions aimed at addressing human rights abuses. But there must be strong consideration given to the extent which India’s actions in Kashmir compromise their fitness to be a permanent member. With the unlikeliness of the current permanent members to diminish their power, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on potential permanent members and their record at upholding the foundational values which the Council strives to uphold.
Currently, India struggles to meet these tests and it must at the very least begin facilitating a peaceful resolution in Kashmir before it should see its day as a permanent UN Security Council member.
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