Making a strong case for expansion of the 15-member Security Council, India has sharply criticised permanent members of the UN's top organ for hindering substantive reforms which would help bring the world body in line with current realities.
The Council has failed to effectively address the problems of peace and security which is its charter responsibility as is clear from the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, Indian Ambassador to the UN Nirupam Sen said intervening in the General Assembly debate on reforms on Friday.
"These problems are arguably worse than before," he told the 192-member Assembly as he attacked the Council for putting on its agenda items, which have nothing to do with the peace and security while failing to concentrate on its charter responsibility.
Seeking expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories, Sen asserted that new elected permanent members would help put the Council back on its track.
He pointed out that even an inter-parliamentary group had recently expressed the view that "as long as the Security Council is not changed, it will be hard for the UN to truly change."
Asking the permanent five members -- the US, UK, Russia, France and China -- not to behave as if history ended in 1945 when the UN Charter was written and victors of the Second World War made themselves permanent members, he told them to recognise changes that have taken place since then -- the vast expansion in membership, the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid triumphs, freedom and equality.
"It is no coincidence that the revitalisation of the General Assembly and the reform of the Security Council are both being frustrated," he told the delegates.
Rejecting the argument that addition of new permanent members is not justified as there are problems even when there are five of them, Sen said the dispersal of power which would give member states a real sense of ownership would come from new permanent members elected and held accountable to the General Assembly through review of their performance.
The Indian Ambassador was referring to the fact that the current permanent five members were not elected by the General Assembly, but the new permanent members would have to be elected by the Assembly. The Soviet Union was the original member of this group and Russia succeeded it when it broke up.
The Group of Four comprising India, Japan, Germany and Brazil has proposed addition of six permanent members.
To buttress his argument, Sen referred to views expressed by Secretary General Kofi Annan that quite a lot of members feel that the UN's governance structure is anachronistic and it cannot continue to have a situation where the power base is perceived to be controlled by a limited number of five-member states.
"Our experience of the general reforms process confirms that several dimensions of reform have been distorted or vitiated and the reform process has demonstrably suffered form an absence of UN Security Council reforms," Sen told the Assembly.