ISLAMABAD: India assumed berth as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at its headquarters for two years on Saturday and it appears that it would follow an assertive posturing for attaining “bigger global role” to steer its efforts for becoming a permanent member of the UNSC.
Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said to a query by The News on Saturday evening that “India’s negative role in maintenance of international peace and security the prime mandate of the UNSC is well known”. He said India’s state-sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan and its elaborate schemes and global network for spreading disinformation about Pakistan have been fully exposed. “We are confident that other members of the Security Council will remain mindful of these facts and not allow India to abuse its position as a non-permanent member of the UNSC,” he said. India will not be able to evade responsibility and accountability for its widespread violations of the international law and UNSC resolutions in IHK and beyond, the spokesman added.
Interestingly Pakistan voted for Indian incumbent membership two years ago in June 2019. Pakistan’s permanent representative (PR) for the world body Munir Akram who celebrated his 76th birthday last year has yet to come out with his plan of action for upcoming situation at the UN headquarters. India has brought new envoy career diplomat TS Tirumurti to replace its former Muslim representative Syed Akbaruddin Ahmad in April last and he has outlined counterterrorism, peacekeeping, maritime security, reformed multilateralism, technology for people, women and youth and developmental issues, especially in the context of peace building, as India’s priorities for the UNSC tenure. India will become president of the UNSC in August this year just before the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) summit.
Chaudhry said: “I feel that India’s presence in the UNSC is needed at this juncture when there are deep fissures among P-5 themselves and also with other countries. “The UN is losing coherence and we hope to bring this back by focusing on issues of priority to all member states.”
India has started its eighth term as a non-permanent member on the powerful horseshoe table as voting member of the council. Indians believe that the two-year term presents a unique opportunity for India to demonstrate global power and responsibility, thereby strengthening its claim to a permanent seat on the council, which it has sought for decades. Pakistan has been vehemently opposing it on the principals of democratic norms.
The new members will have the opportunity to shape the debate on some of the most pressing global peace and security challenges of these times, including the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, the Iran nuclear deal, the COVID-19 pandemic, and threats posed by climate change. In the past, India has been a passive voice in the international community on this count. In 2011, during its last rotation on the UNSC, India abstained on one of the most important resolutions that came for a vote that terms Resolution 1973 which among other things authorized international intervention in Libya. Further, while India claims to respect the sovereignty of other nations, it has not stood up for countries that have been victim of aggression.
In 2014, India was the first major country to legitimize the Russian annexation of Crimea and abstained from a UN resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. These are not impressive models of global leadership. Another glaring example of Indian inaction has been Myanmar’s treatment of the ethnic Muslim Rohingya. In Myanmar, the state-sanctioned violence has forced out hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, sending close to a million refugees streaming into neighbouring Bangladesh. International observers, including a UN fact-finding mission, believe that the remaining Rohingya in Myanmar continue to face the threat of genocide. Bangladesh is now under untenable pressure, as it continues to indefinitely house large numbers of Rohingya refugees. This regional and global humanitarian crisis is occurring in India’s backyard and is directly impacting Bangladesh, its immediate neighbour. Yet, notwithstanding a few mild statements and tepid offers of assistance to Bangladesh, India’s response has been marked by shocking indifference and passivity.
The observers are of the view that a thought experiment compares India to two other countries that have also sought permanent UNSC seats: Japan and Germany. Deplorably, India’s soft power – the trust that its domestic behaviour has engendered in the past is under serious threat. The European Union, US and India’s so-called allies in the Gulf have expressed dismay at rising repression and intolerance in that country. Notable international outlets, such as The Economist, have also expressed concern about the declining democratic practices in India. It cannot realistically claim global authority if it cannot maintain its own status as a democracy. The observers reminded that China’s power relies heavily on economic might, large-scale investment in countries around the world, and proactive military manoeuvres in Asia. Simply put, India has neither the capital nor the firepower to match China’s material prowess.
What it does have is the enduring appeal of its robust political space and vibrant civil society.
The country’s ability to be seen as a desirable global role is inextricably tied to its domestic behaviour. The non-permanent members do not have veto rights. The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis, giving African and Asian countries five seats. The last time India held the position in 2011-2012, which was then immediately followed by Pakistan’s two-year stint as well.