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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

India ‘virtually’ seals bid for UNSC seat with Asia-Pacific bloc’s support

The Asia-Pacific Group, one of the five regional bodies of the United Nations, conveyed its endorsement of India’s candidature by acclamation at a monthly meeting chaired by Tuvalu on Tuesday.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2019 01:46 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
The UN general assembly votes every year around June to elect five of the 10 non-permanent members to the Security Council, picked according to regional quota and vacancies, and India is running for the 2021-22 term, polling for which will take place in June 2020. India will succeed Indonesia if elected.
The UN general assembly votes every year around June to elect five of the 10 non-permanent members to the Security Council, picked according to regional quota and vacancies, and India is running for the 2021-22 term, polling for which will take place in June 2020. India will succeed Indonesia if elected.(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
         

India has “virtually” sealed another stint on the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member after a 55-member bloc of United Nations member countries, including China and Pakistan, unanimously picked it as its sole contender for one of the five seats that go under a General Assembly vote next June.

The Asia-Pacific Group, one of the five regional bodies of the United Nations, conveyed its endorsement of India’s candidature by acclamation at a monthly meeting chaired by Tuvalu on Tuesday.

“A unanimous step,” Syed Akbaruddin, India’s permanent representative to the UN, wrote on Twitter later in the day. “Asia-Pacific Group @UN unanimously endorses India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat of the Security Council for 2 year term in 2021/22.“Thanks to all 55 members for their support.”

The PR posted a video link in the tweet that gave a flash review of the countries that went along with the unanimous decision by their flags and names. China and Pakistan, who have tended to be on the other side of India on most issues at the world body, were among them. No details were immediately available of the conversations that went into securing their support.

The UN general assembly votes every year around June to elect five of the 10 non-permanent members to the Security Council, picked according to regional quota and vacancies, and India is running for the 2021-22 term, polling for which will take place in June 2020. India will succeed Indonesia if elected.

The Tuesday development “virtually” sealed India’s election as it is the only member emerging from the Asia Pacific group for the sole seat it has according to a regional quota in the UNSC’s next bunch of five non-permanent members, a UN diplomat familiar with the process said on background.

“Theoretically and technically”, any one of the 55 Asia Pacific Group can renege on their Tuesday endorsement and field themselves as contenders anytime before the vote next June, even “at the last minute”. But the possibility of that was “said to be next to negligible”. Apart from other things, that would “amount to a violation of the endorsement”, which, could play to India’s advantage in a vote.

India will now start the process of securing the support of other regional groups, which is expected to go along smoothly after the Tuesday endorsement that was described as the most crucial step. The ensuing discussions with other regional groups and countries are expected to proceed along set patterns of UN negotiations — some countries may seek reciprocal support from India for their candidature at a later date.

A “huge fight” is brewing in the Western Europe Group where Canada, Norway and Ireland are running for two seats from their regional quota of the UNSC non-permanent membership. “That will be a major battle, because one of them has to lose,” said a western diplomat.

A similar fight would have erupted in the Asia Pacific Group if there was a second contender, or more. There isn’t any, for now.

India’s last membership of the UNSC ended in 2012. Current central minister Hardeep Puri was the Indian permanent representative then. Previous stints were 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985 and 1991-1992.

India is actually after a permanent seat and has sought urgent reforms of the UN including the expansion of the Security Council permanent membership to reflect correctly the changed global reality. Its claim has been supported by all of the five permanent members but China.

There is widespread acknowledgement of the need for reforms, and a process is under way, but progress has been extremely slow. Akbaruddin vented India’s frustration and exasperation with the delays in a UN speech last month invoking Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”, a play in which the two central characters wait to be joined by a character who never shows up.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 00:07 IST

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