India is virtually guaranteed a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) representing the Asia region. This is because the only other candidate for the seat, the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, withdrew its candidacy recently.
The formal election for the seat is in mid-October and barring unforeseen circumstances, India will assume the seat vacated by incumbent Japan, on January 1, 2011 for a two-year term. Kazakhstan issued a note verbale, or diplomatic memorandum, stating it was withdrawing.
According to diplomatic sources, the Central Asian nation’s decision to withdraw was guided by its stated intention to focus on its other multilateral responsibilities.
The UNSC has 15 members, including 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members, of which two are from Asia. Each member of the Council has a vote while only the five permanent members can veto a resolution.
If elected, India will join the UNSC after a gap of 18 years. However, while no other country is expected to announce its candidacy, any nation can do so until up to the vote at the United Nations General Assembly.
Even if India goes to the election without an opponent it will still need to secure two-thirds of the votes of the 192 member countries of the UNGA that comprise the electoral college.
Indian diplomats are optimistic that India will manage to secure more votes than the 128 actually required to be elected to the UNSC.
“We now have consensus within the Asian group,” a senior diplomat said, adding, “It’s very unusual that the consensus candidate does not get the endorsement of the majority.”
However, diplomats at India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations don’t want to sound overly confident.
This is a result of the 1996 fiasco when then prime minister, I.K. Gujral, had confidently predicted India’s winning a similar election. In the end, India was soundly defeated by Japan and didn’t even receive 40 votes.
Indian diplomats are also happy that the latest “diplomatic victory” was achieved without any rancour. “We maintain excellent relations with Kazakhstan,” a diplomat said.
In fact, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in 2009.
However, a seat at the UNSC table would also mean added responsibilities for India. For instance, it could face the issue of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. But before India can consider such tricky matters, it first has to secure the seat in October.