Sunday, May 26, 2024

How India could use UN to its advantage in 2021: The Jaishankar mantra

At the outset, let’s be happy that India is all set to start its eighth two-year- term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1, 2021. Working for the prestigious body is going to be significant for India for every purpose as it brings more responsibility and a sense of maturity. The two-year term comes with a great opportunity for India to demonstrate its global power. But the challenge will be to make it count.

To be an effective player on the world’s prominent stage, India will require major retooling on several parts including its foreign policymaking, investing in the modern military, bolstering the economy, boosting partnerships with allied democracies, and strengthening its democratic institutions.

The global community has been waiting for the last two decades for India to play a bigger and major role and not just only in Asia but beyond that.

Obviously, the focus at the present juncture will be the covid-19 pandemic situation and while the world stands divided into such dark phases, India, which believes in the dictum of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (the world is one), could emerge as the leader of the world needs right now.

Here it’s the geo-strategic location and a huge labour force of 500 million people comes into the action. India has earned a position of vaccination hub for itself as almost 60% of the vaccines distributed in the world originates from India.  In these challenging times, when most of the developed countries are focusing on stockpiling the vaccines, India is bracing itself to play a central role in supplying the vaccines to the world. India can probably use this UN platform for taking responsibility for the new initiatives and present itself as a new leader.

There’s a common misconception that non-permanent members at UNSC are powerless as they don’t have veto power or diplomatic influence but what they have is collective veto- that means to pass a resolution in UNSC at-least seven non-permanent members have to give a green signal to that resolution, even if five permanent members are already agreed to that. Also, non-permanent members also get a chance of a monthly presidency at UNSC. With that presidency, India can use that platform to bring forth the major issues and decide the content of UNSC debates.

Further India is definitely going to use this stint to strengthen its case as a permanent member of the UNSC in the coming years. While India has already presented its argument, that it is the world’s largest democracy with diversity and has the fourth largest military in the world, to be a permanent member of UNSC, amid the changing scenarios, India is also going to look beyond its great size and diversity.

Unlike Japan and Germany, the other two countries that are also trying to secure a permanent membership in UNSC, India obviously cannot match them in terms of financial position. So now the question comes: what options does India have to show the rest of the world?

The world has long seen India as an extraordinary, and largely successful, experiment in crafting democracy in a poor and deeply divided country. It is this – the appeal of its democratic values and processes – that has earned it global respect.

Talking about the priorities of India in the Security Council, India’s permanent representative to the United Nation, TS Tirumurti said, “We will continue to serve as the voice of the developing world. We will speak in support of peace, security, and development and speak out against the enemy of humanity – terrorism. We will also focus on maritime security, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding, promotion of technology with a human face as well as issues related to women and children.”

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar has said that India’s approach would be guided by 5 “S”: Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samriddhi (prosperity).

India has been urging the global community to have zero tolerance for terrorism, it would also like to strengthen operative frameworks on terrorism to strengthen the multilateral system for addressing issues such as misuse of information and communications technology by terrorist entities.

For the world, China has become a problematic state and Beijing’s strong image has fractured after the state failed to respond effectively against the covid-19 virus. India’s inclusion in the UNSC as a non-permanent member seems to be a golden opportunity on the part of India to accelerate and showcase constructive multilateral negotiations at this time. India can work with like-minded countries to stop China from heading into the UN organizations by bringing its transparency, credibility, and accountability in the working.

UNSC seat offers a chance for India to show its global governance prowess on a number of critical international and regional issues and the time has come when India will not just say that it deserves to be a global power rather will focus on acting like one.


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