Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is using the G8-G5 summit in Italy to make a case for an Indian permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In an article written for a summit compendium, he says “the structure of the UN Security Council must evolve to become a true representative of the global community” because the G-8, G8 + G5 and G-20 can’t handle the world’s problems.
The article starts with the standard New Delhi line that the council’s makeup is out of date and “poses serious problems of legitimacy.” Singh writes, “It is obvious that if the system was being designed today, it would be very different.”
The various G bodies arose, he argues, because the council was flawed. “The unworkability of the existing structures has led to greater reliance on plurilateral groupings.”
Then he critiques each of them.
The G-8 is “not representative as it does not include any developing country.”
The G-8 + G-5 is unviable because of its two-level membership and lacks “special legitimacy within the UN system.” The G-20’s membership “remains arbitrary” and does not parallel the board of the International Monetary Fund.
The G-8 is a club of wealthy countries, while G-20 is a grouping of developed and emerging economies. The G-5 nations are the major emerging economies of the world.
What the G-20’s emergence did show, however, was “that the existing institutions of global governance did not permit effective coordination of a global response.” This is also true of “institutions of governance” handling security, climate change and the like. The article avoids specifically asking for a permanent seat, instead noting that India will “seek its due place” and “strive for the reform of the UN”.
Singh made a passing reference to the “reform of international institutions” during his departure statement.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had earlier diluted the summit’s importance, saying it was “not a negotiating forum” and merely designed to “provide a chance for people to talk”.
New Delhi may want to make an early case for a seat as her advisors have made it known that UN reform is a personal priority of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In her June 17 speech on Indo-US relations, she seemed to touch on the possibility when she said as the global role of countries like India expand, “we should be prepared to adapt the architecture of international institutions to reflect their new responsibilities."