In a strong criticism of the make-up and functioning of the Security Council, India said on Monday that as a “non-representative” body it lacked the legitimacy to advise nations on political inclusion.
Ambassador Bhagwant S. Bishnoi, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, told the Council, “The imperative of political inclusion should not become an imposition of prescriptions on the affected population by the Security Council.”
Moreover, “while the mandate of the Security Council is to act on behalf of the wider membership, it uniquely lacks the legitimacy, on account of its non-representative character, to counsel States on the merits of political inclusiveness,” he said during a Council session on Inclusive Development For The Maintenance Of International Peace and Security.
India, which is pushing for reform of the Council, has consistently criticised its current composition with five veto-wielding permanent members dating to its foundation in 1945 when India and the vast majority of the current UN members were colonies, many of them of Britain and France. Meanwhile, the membership of the UN has grown from 51 to 193.
Three of the five members, Britain, France and Russia are from Europe, and three, Britain, France and the United States are members of the NATO, while Latin America and Africa are left out, as are economically more powerful nations like Japan and Germany and India, a populous country that has been a major contributed to the UN peace-keeping operations.
India has also criticised the Council for lack of transparency and failure to adequately consult with others members on issues involving them like peace-keeping operations.
Bishnoi faulted what he said were the Council’s attempts to expand its role at the expense of other UN bodies. “A holistic vision of international security based on the interdependence of the three pillars of the UN system, namely peace and security, development and human rights, does not mean that ipso facto the Security Council should arrogate to itself all these,” he said.
“There are separate organs within the UN system tasked to manage the three pillars,” he said. “So far as the issues of inclusive development are concerned, the Security Council should not encroach on the mandate of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council).”
Bishnoi also cautioned against foisting policies developed elsewhere on countries emerging from conflicts without considering the realities on the ground.
He acknowledged that “inclusion” and “inclusive development” are essential for peace and peacebuilding and added, “No society or nation has so far managed to achieve peace and stability without eradicating poverty and providing basic human development and economic opportunities to its people.”
However, he added peace and stability within societies “are directly connected to and are affected by conditions of instability and insecurity at the international level.”
Therefore, he said, “Efforts for ensuring broader political inclusion within national contexts must reflect national circumstances and realities and avoid repeating and reinforcing the existing paradigm of foisting externally formulated policies and programmes for countries transitioning out of conflict.”
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria, who presided over the session, said that massive international wars like those of the last century had been replaced now by new threats. In dealing with these dangers, she asserted that the politics of inclusion — including education and jobs — were a more potent threat to terrorists than “the power of missiles.”
Monday was observed in the US as Martin Luther King Day, honoring the civil rights leader and Nobel laureate. US Ambassador Samantha Power used the occasion to poignantly acknowledge before the world her country’s shortcomings with two parallel Americas, one of “opportunity and equality” and the other of “daily ugliness” and “fatigue of despair” as King saw it.
“It has been nearly fifty years since Dr. King spoke to the need to address these gaps in the United States, and yet so many of the gaps persist, here in the United States and around the world,” Power said. “His call to action is as resonant and urgent today as when he first made it. We must do everything in our power to do our part to fulfill it.”