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Expansion of UNSC likely soon

world Updated: Feb 20, 2010 02:04 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times
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Senior diplomats believe that the long-stalled expansion of the United Nations Security Council, including the addition of permanent members, could take place within the next couple of years.

As India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Hardeep Singh Puri observed, “There is clear and discernible momentum but it has to be progressed. Things are likely to come to fruition in 2011-2012.”

India is campaigning for expansion of the Council, and is one of the principal candidates for permanent membership. The campaign along with the other three nations that comprise the G-4 group, Brazil, Japan and Germany, has been revived recently after flagging over the last couple of years.

What is more important is that the United States has reviewed its position on the expansion of the UNSC, and has expressed a “preference” for expansion in both categories — permanent and non-permanent. Previously, the US had not been favourably disposed towards such reform and former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton had even been critical of the G-4 effort to secure such reform.

The US has now also outlined the sort of countries that appear to fit the bill for permanent membership. Diplomatic sources said that those criteria work in India’s favour since it fulfils them. They include a growing financial, military and regional profile for potential permanent members.

What is equally significant is that nearly 140 member states of the UN have also supported creating a clear document to expand the Council. If that document becomes a reality, it may well fast track the process of expansion.

But some tricky issues still have to be worked out. These include the quantum of the expansion since the UNSC currently has 15 members (five permanent and ten non-permanent). The US does not want an “unwieldy” body and would like to see a number below 25 members. Indian diplomats believe that a “compromise” on the figure will be arrived at between 20 and 25 members.

What could also help India’s effort to secure permanent membership of the UNSC is the likelihood that after 19 years, it may finally represent the Asia region as a non-permanent member of the Council, starting January 2011.