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Why India doesn't have a permanent seat at United Nations Security Council

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalSep 23, 2022 | 15:00

Why India doesn't have a permanent seat at United Nations Security Council

A meeting of UNSC members in New York. Photo: Getty Images

Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has raked up a long pending issue of India not getting a permanent seat at United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In his message to the world leaders at UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Zelenskyy questioned why India, Japan Brazil and Ukraine are not permanent members of the UNSC? He said that the day will come when this will be resolved.

What is UNSC and who are its permanent members? The UNSC was established on October 24, 1945, after the end of World War 2. The prime responsibility of the UNSC is the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 members, each member has one vote. The five permanent members are UK, China, US, Russia and France. 

Besides them, other countries like India get a temporary seat at UNSC but have so far not been given a permanent seat despite having all the requisites. 

A sitting of UNSC meeting in New York. Photo: Getty Images

Why? There are three big reasons why India hasn't yet got a permanent seat at the UNSC:

  • Resistance from China: China's position on India's permanent seat has always been ambiguous. It has never been clear. India's relationship with China has been strained after the recent Doklam standoff and recent cross-border tensions in Ladakh. China also has been actively supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Also, India supports Japan's bid for UNSC seat which China opposes. Therefore, China will not support India as long as India supports Japan.
  • US: Former US President Barack Obama had once supported India's bid for a seat at UNSC but since then there has been no progress on this. During Donald Trump and now under Joe Biden, there has been update on this by the US. Off late, the official American policy has been to oppose India's permanent membership at the Security Council because India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and possesses nuclear weapons. And it is pretty evident that India will not find support from US for a seat at the council
  • The structure of the Security Council: For India or any other country to get a permanent seat at UNSC, amendments will have to be made in the UN Charter which requires two-thirds vote of general members and the support of five permanent members or P5. This would be difficult at first because the present 5 permanent countries woudln't want to disturb the balance of power by including India and any other country as a permanent member. It will also open the floodgates and legitimize the bids of other countries like Japan, Germany, Brazil and Ukraine.

India is the most obvious and least controversial option for a seat at the UNSC. But still it doesn't seem that it's going to get a seat anytime soon. UNSC is also one of the slowest moving international bodies in the world. It is conservative and reluctant to make changes.

Last updated: September 23, 2022 | 15:00
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