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6] India and the United Nations

India and the United Nations

1. India’s Claim for UNSC Permanent Seat

Apart from ability to influence decisions at global level, Permanent membership of UN Security Council also has a symbolic importance. It is a recognition of a country’s greater status, which also brings advantages in conduct of foreign policy.

1.1 Arguments Supporting India’s Case for UNSC Permanent Seat

  1. With almost one fifth of global population, India is the most populous country in world.
  2. India is also the world’s largest democracy.
  3. India is one of the founding members of UN and has participated in virtually all the initiatives of organization.  
  4. It has played an unparallel contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts.
  5. The country has made regular contributions to the UN and never faltered on payments.  
  6. India is also 5th largest economy (3rd largest in terms of PPP numbers), and the fastest growing large economy.
  7. According to multiple indices, India is the 4th largest military power.
  8. Along with demographic, democratic, economic, and military power, India is also a civilization power, perhaps the oldest civilization of the world.
  9. India’s history with NAM, the initiative of International Solar Alliance, Vaccine Maitri, the success of G20 in achieving consensus show the ability of nation to lead at global level.
  10. If India gets a permanent seat, it will be an acknowledgement of its great power status. It will be a recognition that India is a major stakeholder in international peace.

1.2 Strategies Adopted by India for UNSC Permanent Seat

  1. It led and continues to lead the largest movement of the third world countries, NAM. It has always played a leadership role for global south, championing for New International Economic Order, WTO reforms, through groupings like IBSA, BRICS, ISA, RIS, CDRI, and recent initiatives like Vaccine Maitri.
  2. It explored both the options of going alone and going in coalition. Unilaterally, all P5 countries have expressed their support for India’s claim. In Coalition, India is part of G4 and L.69 groupings, both asking for expansion of UNSC.
  3. The coalition diplomacy has not been so much fruitful since China has objected to inclusion of Japan, while the chances of Germany are dim as Europe is already over-represented.
  4. India is actively engaged in the ongoing Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on United Nations Security Council reforms at the United Nations.
  5. India have also acted as a non-permanent member of the UNSC 8 times since formation. In last election for 2021-22 term, it secured 184/193 votes, demonstrating overwhelming support for India’s leadership role.
  6. India has played an active role in various UN initiatives like UN peacekeeping operations and made regulation contributions to UN.
  7. To ensure that the Chinese support for India’s claim doesn’t remain a lip service, and a tangible progress is made at UN, India has called for text-based negotiations rather than existing practice of oral Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN).

1.3 Challenges for Indian Membership

  1. The lack of Chinese support from P5 members
  2. Uniting for Consensus (Coffee Club) opposition to expansion of permanent members
  3. Regional rivals opposed to inclusion of G4 member countries.
  4. Some countries are also concerned about India’s nuclear weapons capabilities, while some have suggested that India’s difficulties with Pakistan will make it ineffective as a permanent member.
  5. There is also a concern that if India is included, other emerging powers such as Brazil, Germany, Japan, perhaps even South Africa will have to be accommodated.

Given these concerns, it may not be very easy for India or anyone else to become a permanent member of the UN in the near future.

Also include points from the subtopic UNSC Membership Reforms -> Other Problems in UNSC Membership Reforms

1.4 Scholarly Perspectives on India and UNSC Permanent Seat

  1. According to Ramchandra Guha, there is no need for India to be in the race of super stardom, rather it should focus on internal developments.
  2. According to Shyam Saran, India should focus on building real strength i.e. economic and military strength, rather than running after illusionary goals.
  3. As suggested by Prof. Ramesh Thakur, if India thinks that the goal of UNSC is so important, then it better go for non-cooperation with UN and make it realize the importance of India.
  4. C Rajamohan suggested that India should be careful while trying to gain permanent seat in UNSC. The goal is not so important              that India allows itself to be bargained by western powers.
  5. “India’s situation is like Sisyphus, the historic Greek character, carrying huge boulder on the head to the top of the hill, just to see it rolling down.” – Kishor Mahbubani
  6. ‘The Need for UNSC Reform Cannot Be Denied Forever’: S Jaishankar

2. India and UN Peacekeeping

2.1 History of UN Peacekeeping.

UN Peacekeeping was a spontaneous step taken to bring relief to the Israel-Palestine conflict in 1948 and was also extended to the Indo-Pakistan conflict the same year. Since it was invented after the UN was formed, it is not mentioned in the UN Charter.

UN Peacekeeping was formed as a tool to maintain peace and security in the conflict areas during the cold war period when UNSC had been paralyzed. For the first time, Peacekeepers were sent to Arab-Israeli war. They were unarmed military troops whose primary role was to monitor, report and build confidence.

1956 Suez Crisis was the first instance of armed peacekeeping mission.

The Congo crisis was the first large scale mission where around 20,000 troops were deployed. India contributed heavily to this mission.

Since then, 71 missions have been employed by the UN.

The UN Peacekeeping is guided by four basic principles:

  1. Consent of the parties
  2. Impartiality
  3. Nonuse of force except in self-defense
  4. Defence of the mandate

2.2 Present Situation of Peacekeeping.

The peacekeeping operations, which started mainly as military based, have now become multidimensional. Apart from military tasks monitoring ceasefires and patrolling buffer zones between hostile parties, now Peacekeepers are often involved in civil wars, where constitutional authority does not exist, or is often limited. Sometimes non-state actors are also involved, which are not bound to follow any norms.

Peacekeeping troops are also called upon to monitor humanitarian relief operations, human rights violations, mine clearance, to monitor state boundaries, provide civilian police support, assist in infrastructure building like road, railway, bridges or to assist in electoral processes etc.

2.3 Present Issues in Peacekeeping.

  1. The biggest challenge that peacekeepers face is regarding their own security. The challenges include terror threats by non-states members.
  2. The changing nature of peacekeeping operations from military to other aspects also brings in different challenges to peacekeepers, who may not be trained for such variety of tasks.
  3. Reluctance on the part of developed countries to contribute troops for the mission.
  4. Allegations by fund contributing countries of misappropriation of funds by troop contributing countries.
  5. Some countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh look at peacekeeping as a means to earn foreign exchange. They have failed to act in a responsible manner.

2.4 India’s Demands for Reforms in UN Peacekeeping

  1. Consultation with troop contributing countries. Countries like India, which carry the responsibility of the UN Peacekeeping, should have a decisive voice in the process of setting up the mission and resource mobilization.
  2. More funds and timely release of funds.
  3. Zero tolerance towards any irresponsible behavior like sexual violence, corruption etc. by peacekeepers.
  4. Developed countries have proposed ‘robust peacekeeping’. Since attacks against peacekeepers are increasing, they should also be allowed to keep offensive weapons.

(There is also objection to this idea since it will end difference between peacekeeping and collective security. This can be mis-utilized by developed countries who will send their forces in disguise of peacekeepers.)

2.5 India’s Contributions to UN Peacekeeping

“It would be an understatement to say that India’s contribution to global peace has been remarkable” – Antonio Guterres

Following points highlight India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping efforts

  1. India’s journey with peacekeeping started with its participation in the UN operation in Korea in the 1950s, where India played a very significant role in the armistice. India also participated in the Suez Canal crisis of 1956.
  2. Since then, India has contributed around 275000 troops so far in 49 of the 71 UN missions.
  3. In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia.
  4. Image of Indian peacekeepers is that they have acted in extremely profession manner. They are known for their competence and ability to establish rapport with local populations.
  5. So far, 177 Indians have sacrificed their lives on peacekeeping mission, highest for any nation. Indian peacekeepers have been awarded with Dag Hammarskjold award for their supreme sacrifices.
  6. India also have developed a well-rounded policy on UN peacekeeping, and it has established training center in Delhi under Centre for UN Peacekeeping, which trains around 12000 peacekeepers every year.
  7. Currently (2024) around 5500 troops have been deployed globally in 12 UN missions.

2.6 Role of Women in India’s Peacekeeping Contribution

role of women in Indias peacekeeping

Recognizing the potential of women in effectively addressing the complex challenges of peacekeeping, India has been proactive in including women in various roles, including military, police, and civilian components. India displayed a strong commitment to gender parity by deploying Female Engagement Teams (FETs) and Female Formed Police Units (FFPUs) to countries like Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These deployments enable Indian women peacekeepers to engage with local communities, foster dialogue, and provide vital support to marginalized. populations, particularly women and children.

India, one of the leading nations in terms of troop contribution to UN peacekeeping, has made a notable deployment by sending a platoon of women peacekeepers to Abyei, South Sudan, in January 2023. This marks India’s largest unit of female Blue Helmets in a UN mission since 2007. This deployment signifies India’s commitment to peacekeeping while reflecting the country’s determination to substantially enhance the participation of Indian women in peacekeeping contingents. India previously deployed the first-ever all-women’s contingent in Liberia in 2007.

Overcoming societal norms and perceptions regarding women’s roles in conflict and security requires resilience and determination. Furthermore, logistical obstacles such as limited access to appropriate facilities, resources, and gender-specific training can hinder their effectiveness in the field. Additionally, women peacekeepers are vulnerable to security risks and gender-based violence, necessitating comprehensive measures to ensure their safety and well-being.

Indian women serving in UN peacekeeping forces serve as inspiring role models, challenging gender stereotypes and inspiring future generations. Their presence has a profound impact on local communities, empowering women, and girls as agents of change while promoting gender equality. By engaging with local populations, Indian women peacekeepers build trust, facilitate dialogue, and address sensitive issues such as sexual and gender-based violence. Their contributions instill a sense of security and hope, playing a pivotal role in conflict resolution and sustainable peacebuilding efforts.

John Lennon famously sang ‘Give peace a chance’. These blue soldiers do that 24×7, in the pursuit of global peace!

2.7 Conclusion

Peacekeeping is the only tool the global community has to mend various emerging cracks in the world. We will definitely come up with better tools, but until then, we will have to work on the ones we have to provide our fellow humans with a better environment.

The professionalism and expertise of the Indian troops have helped in the implementation of the UN Peacekeeping doctrine. India should now gear up its peacekeeping role by not just contributing troops but also deriving newer strategies and thinking from its long experience.

Posted in PSIR NOTES

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Atul Awasthi

Sir please provide update material or guidance on updation

Abhijeet Pimparkar

You can refer to topic 2A) – 6] United Nations along with this topic.
https://politicsforindia.com/united-nations/

We’ll also update that during next week. That will be sufficient for this topic.

Nishi

Sir kindly update all IR topics as many more important developments have taken place since 2020 in IR.

Abhijeet Pimparkar

Yes Nishi. We’re working on it. We just finished updating section 2B. We’re working on section 1B now ( to be finished before Prelims this year), and then we’ll take up section 2A. You can consider joining our Telegram channel to receive latest updates. You can join it here: https://t.me/+oBPnsJw9lkRmMTM1

Nishi

Thank you sir