India formally assumed its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday, after a hiatus of nearly two decades (since 1992), and, significantly, was also elected to head two crucial counter-terrorism organs of the UNSC.
India joined the council at its first sitting in the New Year. India had been elected to the seat from Asia in October last year, with a huge majority of 187 votes. There are 192 member nations of the United Nations.
While India's tenure is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, officials have said privately that they expect the country to remain on the UNSC beyond that period, possibly in a reformed council.
India's permanent representative to the United Nations, Hardeep Puri, will chair the security council's Counter-Terrorism Committee, which was established in 2001 pursuant to resolution 1373.
This nodal committee is tasked with the mandate of criminalising financing of terrorism, suppression of the provision of safe havens, sustenance or any form of support to terrorists, and sharing of information between governments.
Importantly, it is also meant to ensure that member states "cooperate with other governments in the investigation, detection, arrest, extradition and prosecution of those involved in such acts".
Puri will also chair the council's working group formed under resolution 1566. This group considers measures for action against "individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities".
During the current two-year term, India is expected to chair the UNSC twice.
The first time is likely to be in August this year. The second will be in late 2012.