India is a founding member of the United Nations. She signed the UN Charter at the San Francisco Conference on 26 June 1945. The UN Charter created the UN Security Council (UNSC) with five non-elected permanent members (China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union) and 10 elected members who serve for two-year terms. The UNSC has been given primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security by the UN Charter.
Following her independence in August 1947, the first time India was elected to one of the vacant seats to the UN Security Council was for the 1950-51 term. Since then, India has been elected for a two-year term on the Security Council seven times, averaging one term every decade. Her last term on the Security Council ended in December 2012.
In November 2013, India’s candidacy for her eighth term was formally communicated to the UNGA in a joint communication from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and India. This followed Afghanistan’s decision to withdraw its candidacy for the 2021-2022 vacancy in favour of India.
At the elections held on 17 June 2020 in the UNGA for the five vacant elected seats for 2021-2022, India was the only endorsed candidate from the 54-member states of the Asia-Pacific Group. India will replace Indonesia. India got elected with more than a two-thirds majority vote. India polled 184 votes out of the total 193.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the norms of physical distancing applied in the secret ballot. This was the first time that the UNGA did not convene in a plenary session of all its 193-member states. Each delegation was represented by a specifically nominated representative who cast the vote at a fixed time in the UNGA Hall.
India’s priorities for her two-year term beginning 1st January, 2021 as an elected member of the UN Security Council were unveiled by External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar at a press conference in New Delhi on 5 June 2020. India’s over-arching objective during her tenure will be to establish a New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System (NORMS), which is necessary to make the United Nations including a reformed Security Council fit for purpose to respond to the complex challenges to international peace and security.Within this framework, India proposes to pursue result-oriented actions by the Security Council to counter terrorism as a priority. India aims to focus the Council to act on the abuse of cyberspace by terrorists, enforce existing Security Council Sanctions Regimes, and stem the flow of terror finance. This would include building on the Council’s existing synergy with bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), where India is an active member.
As a member of the Security Council, India aims to ensure greater clarity, direction and professionalism for the 13 active UN peacekeeping missions. India currently contributes about 6000 troops, including female peacekeepers, to these missions, mainly deployed in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lebanon.
A third priority for India in the Security Council will be to develop norms to apply technology with a human touch in building resilient societies in conflict zones on the agenda of the Council. India’s traditional reliance on the principles of dialogue, commitment to international law and mutual respect will drive this activity.
India’s election to the Security Council comes at a time the Council’s effectiveness is impacted by the growing polarization between the United States and China. This polarization has already prevented the Council from adopting a resolution to give clear political support for the global effort to counter Covid-19. The increasing assertiveness of China in Asia adds another dimension to the challenges facing the Council.
India will chair the G-20 in 2022, when she will also be a member of the Security Council. This provides a unique leadership opportunity for India to make the Council proactive in upholding the integral link between international peace, security and development.
Script: Amb. Asoke Kumar Mukerji, Former Permanent Representative Of India To The UN