India backs modest expansion of UN Security Council

February 21st, 2011 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) As a crucial round of inter-governmental negotiations on UN Security Council reforms begins next month, India is backing a “modest expansion” of the powerful body and is looking at 10 new members in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. “What we want is a modest expansion of the council. We are looking at an around 20-25-strong council,” diplomatic sources said.

India, currently a non-permanent member of the council, wants an expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories.

India’s support for a modest expansion enjoys wide support, including from the powerful P5 countries, especially the US, who have reservations about an unwieldy reformed council that could diminish its effectiveness.

Some countries have proposed over 30-member council, which is considered impractical and a delaying tactic by some members.

The UN Security Council is currently a 15-member body, with five permanent members who have veto rights, and 10 members elected for two-year terms on a regional basis.

The UN Security Council was last expanded in 1965 when the non-permanent membership was increased from six to 10.

Zahir Tanin, chair of the inter-governmental negotiations, Monday said here that the seventh round of negotiations would begin on a five-page text - a new, narrowed down document representing the positions and suggestions of all 192 member countries.

Tanin, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, has come to New Delhi to attend the two-day Conference of Least Developed Countries that concluded Saturday.

Outlining India’s position on UN reforms, informed diplomatic sources said here that there is overwhelming support for India’s candidature for a permanent UNSC seat, with even detractors acknowledging New Delhi’s credentials.

India is the world’s largest democracy, has contributed over 100,000 troops for various UN peacekeeping missions and has stood up for human rights, the sources said.

Adopting a realistic, pragmatic attitude to the long-due reforms of the council, New Delhi has indicated that it is not obsessed about the veto power, which it says has been used only 14-15 times in the last decade and may back a proposal which could put off to a later stage the veto power to the new permanent members.

China has reservations about the pace of the reforms of the council and has been ambivalent about India’s candidature, but New Delhi is hopeful that Beijing won’t eventually stand in the way.

India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, who form the G-4 grouping, are seeking permanent seats in the Security Council, the powerful body that takes decisions on global strategic issues.

The key issues in the UN reforms are the size of the Security Council, categories of expansion, the power of veto, regional representation, and the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Among the suggested categories of expansion are increasing the non-permanent membership; increasing both the number of permanent and non-permanent members; and an intermediate solution of increasing the number and term of non-permanent members.

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