National Security

The UN Spring

By Rana Athar Javed

Facing historic, even existential, challenge, the United Nations (UN) has been linked to a system, the ability of which to cope with its own failings is merely a dysfunctionality, appears to have grown worse over times. A further explanation is that during times of great challenges and crises, the people of more than 190 nations are seemingly failed to surmount the tactical advantages that the five permanent Security Council members are in control of. In an extraordinarily volatile environment, especially its inability to resolve Arab Israel conflict, the Kashmir dispute, war on terror and the Iranian nuclear crisis, the UN has repeatedly failed to shape a balanced and more just composition of the entire decision-making system. 

As issues have become more complex and cost of errors has grown, there are renewed calls for a realistic and certainly just decision-making club of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). After the endless impact of Arab Spring, fundamentally, it is the time for a UN Spring, but, the question is do the international community, especially the US have the will & political wisdom to remodel the United Nations?

These reflections are in line with the UN’s inherent system of evolution and reform. Since its establishment in 1945, the UN has been in a “constant state of transition as various international stakeholders seeks ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the system, as various international stakeholders seek ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.N”. system But, “the composition of the UNSC has remained unaltered since 1965, and there are many who question how long its legitimacy will last without additional members that reflect twenty-first century realities.” 

At a minimum, response to new challenges require comparatively reviewed mandate of permanent members. The usage of Veto, for instance remains a significant fact that would become untenable, if its manifestation is not altered in the near future. Largely, because politicized diplomatic decisions emanating from this platform has comprehensively changed the fate, territory and future of billions of people. The character of this assessment also addresses potentially dire dangers of not granting representation to more than 1.5 billion of Muslims, and thereby undermining the nations’ trust in the credibility of the UN.

Essentially, UNSC’s enlargement is being stalled on several accounts, which further downgrades the capacity of existing members to genuinely participate in any remodeling process. Advocating the inclusion of India, for instance without ratification of other South Asian countries including Nepal, Sari Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, should be a matter of great concern. Declaring this process purely a local competitiveness between South Asian countries would not promote the cause of peace and economic process. As the most influential members of the UNSC, the US demonstrates ambiguous stance over the matter of UNSC enlargement – and whereas, it “voices” general support for enlargement, it however clearly favors Indian membership. This supreme dichotomy further compounds the reality, and thereby creating further problems of perceptions of the US policies 

“In [the] Council Special Report, 2009−2010 International Affairs Fellow Kara C. McDonald and Senior Fellow Stewart M. Patrick argue that American reticence is ultimately unwise”. Clearly, the issues such as climate change, terrorism, economic development and nonproliferation requires the multilateral system within the UNSC, rather than pursuing a single country’s strategic objectives.

By all accounts, President Obama actually predicated the way forward, as far as the US preferences are concerned. On November 8, 2010, he expressed support for India’s inclusion as a permanent Security Council member during a speech to a Joint Session of the Indian Parliament: “As two global leaders, the United States and India can partner for global security – especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years. Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate. That is why I can say today, in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member”.

First, the remodeling of the UN should not be a country specific, because the consequences of system’s ills appear to have caught up both with hostility and mistrust in the US approach to sustain the credibility of so-called neutrality of the UN. Hence, would prove detrimental to the world peace. Second, the application of “just” and “sustainable international order” as political expression demonstrates the scope of shared strategic interests of both the US and India. 

The future importance of UNSC is clearly linked with the global outreach that the US has readily developed through Indian influence in the wider Asian and Middle East regions, but, how and when this proposal will be materialized is deliberately omitted. “Looking forward” too is a recommended expression to avoid conflict and maintain reciprocal relationships between two states.   

Finally, the terminologies, efficient, effective, credible and legitimate are appropriately pronounced at a national Indian forum, which only touches the popular domain, the contextual character of these remarks, however still sidesteps the issue of comprehensive remodeling of UNSC. The conclusion then is that in order to make UNSC more functional, credible, legitimate and responsible, it is immensely important that the organizational capacity of the UNSG should be “fairly” represented by both the Muslim and African worlds. Failure is not the option!