India willing to let go of veto power initially to get UNSC membership


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In a bid to get the UN reform process moving, India and other G4 nations have said they were open to innovative ideas and willing to not exercise veto as permanent members of a reformed Security Council until a decision on it has been taken.

In a joint statement, delivered by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin at an inter-governmental negotiations meeting yesterday, the G4 nations of India, Brazil, Germany and Japan emphasised that an overwhelming majority of the UN member states supports the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership in a reformed Security Council. The statement points out that a negotiating text is a basic requirement for work at the UN. “While we are aware of no other way to proceed but this, we are open to innovative ideas to rework the UN system,” it added.

The G4 nations said it unfortunate that they have not heard any innovative ideas but a few countries bringing old rejected models for consideration of the member states yet again. “We are, as a matter of respect, willing to consider them and have them tabled along with our proposals in a composite text,” it said, adding that for the nations’ and UN’s credibility to be sustained, it is time for “honest engagement and exchange on the basis of a text.” On the issue of the veto, the G4 said its approach is that the problem of veto is not one of quantity but of quality — of introducing restrictions.

“While the new permanent members would as a principle have the same responsibilities and obligations as current permanent members, they shall not exercise the veto until a decision on the matter has been taken during a review,” it said. The grouping warned that the issue of veto is important but member states should not allow it to have a “veto over the process of Council reform itself.” It suggested that new permanent members can be democratically elected through an appropriate initial election process and subjected to mandatory and detailed review process after a specific time-period so as to ensure accountability.

Some member states have “conflated and confused” regular elections to the Council with accountability. The bloc said it believes there is an “imbalance of influence” within the Security Council between the permanent and non-permanent members and expansion only in the non-permanent category is not going to solve the problem. “It will actually widen the difference between permanent and non-permanent members even more, tilting further the scales in favour of a dispensation that was valid in the special situation in 1945 but is no longer now,” the statement said.

Akbaruddin said a “balanced enlargement” in both categories is necessarily the only way to ensure an equilibrium that reflects the current situation and any reform that does not address expansion of both categories will be “incomplete and futile.” “Expansion of non-permanent membership is a solution which adds to the size without addressing the malaise that afflicts the Council,” he said in the statement.

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