Does India deserve a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council?

Recently President Barack Obama promised American support for India’s bid to gain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Yesterday, according to leaked cables posted on the WikiLeaks site, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton called India a “self-appointed front-runner.” Supporters of India’s bid point out that it is the second-most populous nation, the largest democracy, a nuclear-power with the world’s second largest standing army, and the fourth largest economy (after the US, China, and Japan).

The current five permanent members yielding powers to veto any substantive resolution are (in no particular order) the United States, Russia (which inherited the seat from the Soviet Union), China, United Kingdom, and France. If you can live with the idea of Security Council with permanent veto-yielding countries, then for various reasons you could probably also argue that United States, China, and Russia all belong in this exclusive club. But France and Britain?

France is the country most likely to bring baguettes to the table. There is a long-running joke about France capitulating to any power that ever threatened it, which is reinforced by World Wars I and II, and the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Its most famous elite military unit is called the Foreign Legion and comprises mostly foreigners. Recently, the country was paralyzed by strikes because the retirement age was increased from 60 to 62. Those baguettes can’t be that good.

What about the Britain? Its sole reason for being on the Security Council is to cast a vote in line with the United States. That way if the Permanent Representative from the United States gets drunk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side the night before an important resolution and has a terrible hangover, she can just text the chap from the other side of the pond in the morning and go back to sleep.

Okay, so I’m being a bit facetious, but my point is that neither France nor Britain yield the global influence they did when the UN Security Council was formed.

Along with India are three other countries with a head-start in the campaign for permanent membership –  Japan, Germany, and Brazil. Of course there are a number of countries opposed to each of the main contenders. China objects to both Japan and India. Pakistan doesn’t want to see India in the Security Council either. South Korea isn’t so keen on Japan’s bid. Mexico and Argentina don’t like Brazil. Italy doesn’t want Germany, but would like to see inclusion of the European Union. (Keep in mind that France is already a permanent member, so that just sounds plain weird). Given that over forty countries are currently opposed to any piecemeal expansion (and perhaps, rightly so), it might be an academic exercise.

Ultimately, America’s support of India’s inclusion might be just a friendly gesture. Given the current anachronistic setup of the Security Council, disbanding or heavily reforming it might be the best way forward. But if expanding it is on the cards, the arguments supporting India’s bid should not be dismissed with prejudice.

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10 thoughts on “Does India deserve a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council?

  1. Heh! Very well argued. One can say with certainty that India’s bid will be the most vociferously contested because of China. Japan has its own economic clout (although declining) but we have the most to lose from a China veto.

    I think Brazil might come out trumps because of the LATAM representation card and economically it overshadows any other country in its region.

    • Thanks! Very good points. I’ve heard some talk about an African alliance to get a country from the continent as well, but they can’t decide among South Africa and Nigeria. I’ve also heard murmurs of Turkey gaining support as a consensus Islamic country, though it is technically a secular state.

      It will be interesting to follow.

  2. Great article. I’m glad someone has highlighted the ridiculousness of France and Britain being on the UNSC. The world has changed so much – they need to update their system.

    One thing that concerns me however, and I’m not sure about the details here, but if India does get a seat, does that not mean that it may well be pulled in to more military action around the world? I’m not sure if that would be such a good thing. At least now, it can pick and choose where to get involved in a more independent manner.

    • That is an interesting point. Right now, I think India is one of the top contributors to UN peacekeeping forces worldwide. But your point is an important one.

      Thanks for reading. :)

  3. I once had asked an UN official of how the UN security council might be expanded. His answer was, “based on military strength”. He supported his answer, saying if another Hitler arose, the UN security council should have military strength to get rid of him. I thought that was a very poor logic to go by.

  4. its a very hot topic nowadays all around whether india deserve or not to become a permanent member of security council.i will like to give my comments against its membership.the main argument which go against it is its belligerent relation with regional countries ,particularly with pakistan,sri lanka and nepal.it involes in proxy war inside these countries by supporting ethnical groups.it has defied UNO resolution on kashmir.so if india take membership of security council permanently then its interference in smaller countries in its neighbourhood will increase and balance of power in south asia overall will disturbed.the neighbouring countries would have to suffer from its hegemony.secondly,the political set up of india suffers from some radical ethnic extremist{shive sine] and the power may go to there hands which would result in misuse of the responsibilty and violation of human rights inside the country as well as increase in stress between relations with regional countries.hence its not proper time to grant permanent membership to india in security council.
    thanks

      • The person who has written this comment is ill informed and an ignoramus soul …..firstly it’s shiv sena not ‘shiv sine’…..for the past 20 years these ppl r in politics and their vote share on the national stage is almost neglible….so the argument of nuclear weapons going in wrong hand is terribly flawed ….secondly if a country like china with an irresponsible army comprising of lunatics can be in UNSC ….then my dear friend Nobody can give a damn argument that India doesn’t deserve a seat in UNSC

  5. The members of the Security counsel should be

    USA
    India
    Brazil
    Germany
    Japan
    if a country in Africa would be needed Egypt or South Africa

  6. I think yes India deserves a seat of per.member in securatory council.As she is world’s biggest democracy,anti blind suppourter of any country,2nd highest population,One of the most powerful country last but not least she has 4rt largest economy.Then I think why China doesn’t give chance to India. I M HOPE THAT SOON INDIA WILL BECAME PER.MEMBER. ‘MERA BHA₹AT MAHAN’.

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