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UNSC: India’s membership and the road ahead

India’s latest election, with the highest number of votes cast in the United Nations General Assembly, to serve a two-year term as non-permanent member of the Security Council commencing in January 2011 is a worthy development that should prompt informed appreciation of its importance. On the one hand, the election, no doubt, is a clear recognition of the long and rich reputation our country has earned in the U.N., besides being an acknowledgment of the growing importance India continues to gain in matters of multilateral governance. On the other hand, it could be dismissed as being too little too late a development to quench India’s vexatious thirst for status of a permanent member. What are the opportunities and challenges awaiting India in its new role? How is the non-permanent membership relevant to pursuing our aspiration for permanent membership? A useful basis for such speculation should be a stock-taking of the patterns in India’s performance in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the occasions when it served as a non-permanent member previously.At the San Francisco Conference where U.N. structural architecture was finalised, India not only supported the need for permanent members in the UNSC, but also persuaded the powerful countries to accept an eligibility criteria for election to the non-permanent membership category. No comparable criteria guided the selection of permanent members, while the non-permanent members are to satisfy tough criteria of contribution to peace and equitable geographical representation. Our approach to the U.N. is characterised by, to borrow Jawaharlal Nehru’s words, ???wholehearted co-operation??? through full participation ???in its councils to which her geographical position, and contribution towards peaceful progress entitle her.??? How tough, nevertheless, is the route to non-permanent membership became clear from the fact that, after establishment of the U.N., it took four years for India to enter the UNSC through



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