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US congressmen move resolution in support of India's UN security council claim

India is a leading claimant to a permanent seat on a reformed and expanded council, with Japan, Germany and Brazil.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2017 17:35 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Ami Bera,Frank Pallone,US House of Representatives
India is a leading claimant to a permanent seat on a reformed and expanded council, with Japan, Germany and Brazil.(REUTERS FILE)

Two Democratic congressmen have introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives, seeking support for India for a permanent membership of the UN security council in recognition of its growing clout and an endorsement of democracies around the world.

It was introduced by Ami Bera, the longest-serving Indian American in US congress and member of the House foreign relations committee, and Frank Pallone, who founded the congressional caucus on India, which has grown into the largest country-specific caucus on Capitol Hill.

“The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council reflect the world as it was 60 years ago, and it’s time we recognise India’s role in increasing global prosperity,” said Bera. “Securing a permanent spot for India on the UN Security Council would strengthen democracy around the world.”

The UNSC is the world‘s top decision-making body, and its five permanent members — the US, UK, France, China and Russia — are the most powerful member-nations, with veto powers, the exercise of which by even one of them can stop or block an initiative supported by all the rest.

India is a leading claimant to a permanent seat on a reformed and expanded council, with Japan, Germany and Brazil, that had come together to form a pressure group pushing the world leaders and the body toward reforms, arguing that the present set-up is woefully unreflective of the changing world order.

“It's in the interests of the United States and the world to have a UN Security Council whose members combine military strength with respect for democracy and pluralism, and an appreciation of the dangers posed by rouge states and terrorist groups,” said Pallone in a joint statement with Bera.

“India belongs on the UN Security Council and it is imperative that Congress makes this clear to the Trump administration and the world,” he added.

Pallone had moved a similar proposal in the last House of Representatives in June 2016, but that had not made it through perhaps because of the paucity of time — there were only a few months left of that Congress, with the country focused on a bitterly divisive race for the White House.

If passed, the resolution will not become a binding obligation for the executive. It will only put the US House of Representatives officially on record in support of India's bid.

The executive branch has already taken that call. President Donald Trump announced his administration’s support for India’s claim — which was first offered by President Barack Obama in a speech to Indian parliament in 2010 — during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June.

But while Trump came out in support of administrative reforms of the UN to cut its bloated bureaucracy and chaired a meeting of most of the member nations to flag off the process, he uttered not a word about Security Council reforms. The Indian delegation to the UN noted this and spoke out.

“On 18 September, there was a meeting here on UN reform,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in her address to the general assembly pointing to the meeting chaired by Trump. “I participated. I witnessed an evident desire for change, to do something.”

“But I do want to remind you,” she added, “that at the 2005 World Summit there was a consensus that the early reform of the Security Council is an essential element of our overall effort toreform the United Nations.” There is still no “text” — a formal document that could form the basis for negotiations.

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 17:35 IST