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'GOI has a clear action plan'

India's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Hamid Ansari, explains the politics, debates and intracacies that involve in the expansion of the Security Council in general and India's case, in particular in an interview with Pragya Joshi.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 17:41 IST

What is the status of the Security Council expansion as of now in 2003?

At the moment nothing much seems to be happening. But essentially the momentum that was built up in 1992 ran out of steam in 1994 - 95. The indication was that on the 50th anniversary of the UN something would be prepared. There were a lot of impulses for that reasoning.

The first was a push from the developing countries; other was the push from United States to get in Germany and Japan because Germany and Japan were loading the peacekeeping budget.

And of course, in the Open Ended Working Group it was found that in early 1990's, India's views were very strongly articulated. This was primarily because it was realised that you cannot have a one-sided expansion and any expansion that will take place has to take care of all the different segments of the world in geographical terms as well as in terms of developed and the developing nations.

Indian standpoint reflects that the expansion should take place along an objective criterion. Was there any explicit criterion objectively stated for the proposed expansion?

Well, that is where the great game was played! The idea was to find a criterion and a whole range of proposals was made. Firstly the question was around the categories that could be expanded: would it be along the developed and the developing nations or would it be against the permanent and the non-permanent members, which meant 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members after the expansion of 1965.

The first big divide over an issue like that was that would you expand only the permanent members or both permanent and non-permanent members.

The Indian argument was that when the UN was formed there was a certain proportion between the overall and the SC membership. If one goes by that logic - the increase in the numbers should be proportionately reflected in the increase in the size of the Security Council.


second question

was that even if you concede that permanent membership has to be expanded, then there were questions about whether you give the tool of Veto to the new permanent or you don't give veto to the non-permanent members- so it was a multiple way divide and no consensus on this could emerge. Added to it there were countries, like India, that were pushing for expansion along both sides: expansion on the size of the UN, that is, SC as a whole and expansion in both categories.

The core of the Indian argument was that when the UN was formed there was a certain proportion between the overall membership and the SC membership. That was the intention of the drafters of the UN Charter. Therefore, if one goes by that logic - the increase in the numbers should be proportionately reflected in the increase in the size of the Security Council. The submission therefore was, that you should really be opting for a council of 29 members- but we also gave other arguments of that being unwieldy.

And that was in the case of the non-permanent members?

Total. We were willing to accept a figure of 25. But we asked for expansion in both the categories and that there has to be some objective criterion especially in terms of the permanent members.

The Indian logic was very simple - no matter how you look at it, if you are going to add permanent members then a country like India cannot be ignored, because of its potential, the role it has played in its peacekeeping, on the UN fora in each of it is aspect. You should expand - but not touch too much upon the question of the Veto. Because then you would tactically put up the back of the permanent five members who do have the Veto. Also on the question of the Veto there can be two sets of the argument - One, that there should not be a Veto. Two, those who have the Veto should simply retain it and be a caste above everybody else. Alternately, that anybody else who comes in should also get the Veto.

Now tactically, the approach was that lets not talk about the Veto at this stageand simply talk about the expansion of the P5 with the non-permanent category. This was our approach. There were other big countries that were willing to go along with this - Africa would be one, Nigeria, Brazil Argentina, Mexico were the others. Then from Asia - there were always enough countries to stake a claim.

Such as?

Well, such as, for us, there was always a spoiler next door. It is not important what particular argument was used. You know what the political logic was? The political logic was that - if you allow India to become a permanent member that handicaps you more in the UN.

First Published: Nov 25, 2003 20:18 IST