Changing state of world
Troubles in Asia:
- India finds itself in a troubled region between West and East Asia, a region full of insurgencies, terrorism, human and narcotics trafficking, and great power rivalries.
- Other problems in Asia include strategic mistrust or misperception, unresolved borders and territorial disputes, the absence of a pan-Asia security architecture, and competition over energy and strategic minerals.
Inward looking west:
- Alongside, the western world is consumed by protectionist instincts, and turning its back on the universal values it once espoused as western values.
- The benign and supportive international system that followed the Cold War has all but disappeared.
- Fear, populism, polarisation, and ultra-nationalism have become the basis of politics in many countries.
But world is better today than at the end of WWII:
- Regardless of some troubling aspects, the world is in a better place today than when the UN was first established.
- The record on maintaining international peace and security, one of the prime functions of the UNSC, has been positive, with or without the UN.
India at UNSC:
- India is to re-enter the UN Security Council after a gap of 10 years.
- The previous time, in 2011-12, followed a gap of 20 years.
- In total, India has been in the UNSC for 14 years, representing roughly a fifth of the time the United Nations (UN) has existed.
- India must leverage this latest opportunity to project itself as a responsible nation.
India should help build stable and secure environment:
- India’s major objective as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2021-22 should be to help build a stable and secure external environment.
- In doing so, India will promote its own people’s prosperity, regional and global security and growth, and a rule-based world order.
- It could emerge a partner of choice for developing and developed countries alike.
Permanent seat for India will happen someday:
- There is no need for India to waste diplomatic goodwill in seeking an elusive permanent seat in the UNSC which will come India’s way by invitation soon enough.
- India will have to increase its financial contribution, as the apportionment of UN expenses for each of the P-5 countries is significantly larger than that for India.
- Even Germany and Japan today contribute many times more than India.
- Although India has been a leading provider of peacekeepers, its assessed contribution to UN peacekeeping operations is minuscule.
What India should aim to do at UNSC:
Reduce humanitarian interventionism:
- As a member of the UNSC, India must help guide the Council away from the perils of invoking the principles of humanitarian interventionism or ‘Responsibility to Protect’.
- The world has seen mayhem result from this.
- Given the fragile and complex international system, which can become even more unpredictable and conflictual, India should work towards a rules-based global order.
Targeting individuals and entities with sanctions:
- India should push to ensure that the UNSC Sanctions Committee targets all those individuals and entities warranting sanctions.
- Multilateral action by the UNSC has not been possible because of narrowly defined national interest.
- As of May, 2019, 260 individuals and 84 entities are subject to UN sanctions, pursuant to Council resolutions 1267, 1989, and 2253.
India should become a consensus-builder:
- Having good relations with all the great powers, India must lead the way by pursuing inclusion, the rule of law, constitutionalism, and rational internationalism.
- India should become a consensus-builder, instead of the outlier it has progressively become.
- A harmonised response is the necessarty for dealing with global problems of climate change, disarmament, terrorism, trade, and development.
- India could take on larger burdens to maintain global public goods and build new regional public goods.
- For example, India should take the lead in activating the UNSC’s Military Staff Committee, which was never set into motion following the UN’s inception.
- Without it, the UNSC’s collective security and conflict-resolution roles will continue to remain limited.
Looking at polycentric future:
- A rules-based international order helps rather than hinders India, and embracing the multilateral ethic is the best way forward.
- India has a strong motive to embrace polycentrism, which might not be suitable to hegemonic powers (who prefer 1 or 2 power blocs) intent on carving out their exclusive spheres of influence.
India should start with improving neighbourhood relations:
- Finally, India cannot stride the global stage with confidence in the absence of stable relations with its neighbours.
- Besides whatever else is done within the UN and the UNSC, India must lift its game in South Asia and its larger neighbourhood.
GS Paper II: International Relations