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Abhishek Tyagi asked: Is there any proposal currently under the consideration of the UN Security Council or the General Assembly to reform the UNSC to include India as a permanent member?

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  • Saurabh Mishra replies: India had initiated the Security Council reforms agenda in the late 1970s. However, it finally succeeded in pushing the agenda in the General Assembly only in 1992. Subsequently, the General Assembly, by resolution 48/26, set up the “Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council” in order “to consider all aspects” of the issue and the discussions started in 1994. Later, in December 2004, the report of the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change suggested two different models for Security Council expansion without veto powers and recommended the introduction of "indicative voting". Kofi Annan's report, “In Larger Freedom” (March 21, 2005), touched very briefly upon Security Council reforms and urged the member states to consider the models as outlined by the High Level Panel. Finally, the 62nd General Assembly established the framework of Inter-governmental Negotiations which took the job from the working group and started its discussions in 2009. It adopted a text-based negotiating document on May 10, 2010, which encompassed all proposals submitted by the membership to the Chair.

    Currently, after eight rounds of intense talks and notable progress, the Inter-governmental Negotiations are under a stalemate on a third revised negotiation draft. Though it is widely accepted that there is a fundamental need for reforms, bilateral and inter-regional rivalries are in full interplay. The process has led to “positions drifting further apart”. The text includes several models of expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories with other suggestions of new categories altogether. The disagreements revolve mainly around regional representation by the countries and the use of veto power. Apart from permanent members, there are identified groups with their own divergent initiatives in the General Assembly, namely G-4 (India, Brazil, Germany, Japan), L69, UfC (Uniting for Consensus), C-10 (Committee of ten African Permanent Representatives) GRULAC (Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries) and S-5 (Small Five-Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland).

    India as a member of G-4 tabled its own draft resolution in 2005 (which has been encircled by the current negotiation draft), calling for Security Council enlargement to 25 members—including six new members in the permanent category with two seats from Africa, two from Asia, one each from Latin America and the Caribbean, one from Western European and Others Group. It also proposed more seats for non-permanent members. In a bid for breakthrough, the Group of Four (G-4) wants some restraints in veto by all the permanent members and proposes for the use of veto power by new permanent members only after a review of 15 years.

    It is to be noted that the negotiation draft does not suggest specific countries for prospective membership. It is only to decide the nature, structure, size and powers of the Council together with regional representation and the process of the selection or election of the members. However, the governments in their statements mention support to one or the other country, including India. For instance, the United Kingdom and France have supported Germany, Brazil, Japan and India together for permanent membership.