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India: A rightful claimant

Support for India's claim to the UN Security Council draws from multiple quarters. Continue backing the bid by signing the petition »

india Updated: Nov 30, 2003 11:44 IST
PTI

Brutal scepticism has always made its slow searing inroads into the veins of international politics. And in recent times it has got its gush and flow with such a definitive élan that most noble bodies seem to have been cast under a pall of gloom. The United Nations almost always faces the brunt of the blow whether we discuss the wars of Sierra Leone or the ethnic strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The topical case of Iraq and the unilateral military offensive against it without a clear Security Council mandate has shattered the pious images of red roses in the army guns or the swirling blueness of the UN flag flying full mast against a seamless peaceful world.

Earlier this year, the Economist (21st March 2003) wrote that 'the UN might now be a busted flush, just in the way the League of Nations was after its failure to stop Italy invading Abyssinia in 1935.'

Momentous churning

There are questions, doubts, uncertainties and reservations demonstrated even amongst the most casual observers of the movement of international peace relations. Which is the reason why the momentum for a talk on the reform within the Security Council should also gather pace.

Just in the manner that the UN framers in San Francisco could never have guessed that an organisation for 50 members will become a mammoth 191. Similarly time has arrived for a decisive realignment and expansion of the body that is central to all UN decision-making - the UN Security Council. It is a body that reflects that time can seriously stand still. That Japan and Germany can still be referred as the 'enemy nations' in the UN Charter. And that it can remain an exclusive club of the powerful five.

Situating the debate

Over the last fortnight, we at the Hindustantimes.com have attempted to place this entire discussion within the broad paradigm of UN reforms. We have presented the deliberations that have taken place in the UN and elsewhere on the issue of enlarging the permanent membership of the Security Council. And have examined the respective positions of the permanent members on the merits and demerits of expanding the number of permanent members.

Within such deliberations we have also attempted to situate India's case for permanent membership of the UNSC. We have discussed India's status as an emerging superpower, its strategic role in international affairs, as well as its prospects as a key player in the world economy that make it a natural leader of developing nations.We have examined its relationships with the existing permanent members. And analysed their stand on the issue of India's entry into this club. And also explored India's chances vis-à-vis other contenders for permanent membership.

Kaleidoscope of voices

We have sought to present a kaleidoscope of facts and views with intellectual rigour and honesty. And the sheer depth of coverage from interviews with previous and current Indian Permanent representatives to the UN to the analysis of the position of the nations of the Permanent 5 stationed here in New Delhi on India's bid for the UN, casts light on the status of expansion.

At the same time, this is not an academic project. Our effort to undertake this exercise arose from a conviction that an informed discourse was imperative on the subject of expansion. Especially in relations to certain prime contenders like India, Brazil, Japan and Germany.

At a time when the legitimacy and relevance of the UN is being questioned, it has become even more important that the apex Council of this body becomes more representative of the new world order, and accurately reflects the aspirations of a greater number of people. By acknowledging India's claims, the UN will send a clear signal that it is serious about reforms and of changing with the times.

Merits a look

If numbers speak a certain language then within a fortnight we are touching a figure of 8,000 signatories from places far and diverse - Estonia toLebanon and St. Lucia to Ghana. This points to a simple fact that it is an issue that merits much more than a look. And is reflective of a majority viewpoint.

In conclusion, we would like to thank all those readers that have participated in this endeavor and also those who have expressed reservations about India's right to be on the Security Council. Dissent and debate constitute the essence of democracy and free press, and we at the Hindustantimes.com have always welcomed alternate, or even opposing, points of views.

We would be closing the activecoverage for the site, nonethelessthe signature campaign remains live and availablefor surfers to join and participate and become a part of this movement.

All of thisseeks to reinforce the importance and sanctity of the UN. And as Dag Hammarskjold, UN's second Secretary-General, put it, "the UN was not created to take humanity to heaven but to save it from hell".

First Published: Nov 30, 2003 00:00 IST