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UN reform meet in March: Delhi

India rides high on hope as the seventh round of crucial discussions for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms begin in New York in March. Jayanth Jacob reports.

delhi Updated: Feb 21, 2011 21:51 IST
Jayanth Jacob

India rides high on hope as the seventh round of crucial discussions for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms begin in New York in March.

But, Zahair Tanin of Afghanistan, the chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on UN reforms is guided by caution and terms the process "sensitive and complex."

However, in the same breath, he also forewarns that that without these reforms the UN will remain "less inclusive."

In March, the discussion will begin on a five- page text, a narrowed down document representing the suggestions from the member countries of the 192-strong world body.

Based on its own calculations, evolving situations and its credentials, New Delhi hopes that its chance of bagging a permanent seat as well as the much-awaited reforms of the world-body kicking in soon remains bright.

Diplomatic sources are confident of sailing through the differences among various groups to come out with a consensual proposal for UN reforms. But odds are many.

For example, unlike the G-4 (India, Germany, Japan and Brazil), the 53-member African Union has a different take on the crucial issue of veto power.

Though G-4 in general and India in particular is not in favour of any "second grade" permanent membership in the UNSC, they have floated the idea of a deferred veto-that a new member can go without veto power for 15 years way back in 2005. And that still remains a starting point for negotiation.

Veto is seen as ridden with political risk, except when it is used on issues like genocide, say diplomatic sources, pointing out that just 15 times the veto was exercised in the last 10 years.

But AU insists on having veto and pitch for UNSC expansion by four seats-two in permanent seats and two non-permanent seats. However, there is no consensus yet in AU for who will those two countries be.

The diplomatic sources are hopeful of looking at a situation where AU can opt for four non-permanent members.

Interestingly, the L-69 groupings, which include both Brazil and India (two G-4 countries) endorsing the AU position.

Diplomatic sources also see the reservations of once-powerful coffee club, consisting Italy and Pakistan among others, fizzling out on various counts. One of their members -- Canada -- has unsuccessfully contested for a non-permanent seat this time.

And members like Pakistan struck a different position from the traditional coffee club position of having the expansion to include non-permanent only when they recently rooted for a permanent member from Africa.

There are varied positions within the P5 (US, Russia, China, France, Russia, and UK).

France and UK are keen for reforms, but Russia and China have issues on veto, and as usual, US is not using a straight bat when it comes to the reform of the UNSC, though President Barack Obama had endorsed Indian candidature for a permanent seat last year.

But the Indian strategy seems to be having a critical mass to push for the reforms and get into the general assembly, where all votes have equal value. And it resolution on reforms should be passed by two by third majority-128 of the total 192 members.

As world's largest democracy, a key G-20 player and an emerging economy, New Delhi hopes that the pre-1945 global balance of power gives way to the realities of the 21st century.