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'Cosmetic changes'to UN Security Council will not help: India

By Yoshita Singh
December 01, 2011 14:39 IST
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India on Wednesday said that mere "cosmetic changes" to the United Nations Security Council will not improve its effectiveness, asking its five permanent members to realise that the reform of the powerful body, including its expansion, is necessary to reflect contemporary realities.

India's Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said the Council's composition is rooted in the year 1945 and its working methods are "divorced" from the current reality.

It is time for the Council to seriously consider why many of its decisions are not having their intended effect and why it does not command enough trust and respect from the international community, he said.

"The permanent members of the Security Council must recognise, not only individually but also collectively, that the Council must be reformed to make it reflect the contemporary realities of the international system," Puri said at an open debate on the working methods of the 15-member Council.

For genuine reforms to take place in the Council's working methods, a comprehensive reform is required in its membership with expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories, and improvement in its working procedures, he said.

"This is essential both for the credibility and continued confidence of the international community in this institution," Puri said.

"There is need for real improvement in its working methods to enhance the Council's legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency. Cosmetic changes will not help. Real improvements need change in both process and approach, which requires reform of the composition of the Council," he said.

The global community must be cognizant that enlarging the Council to reflect contemporary geopolitical realities would improve its representative character, Puri said.

"It would also increase the representation of developing countries, which comprise the vast majority of UN membership, who are ready, capable and willing to shoulder responsibility and contribute through all required means for maintenance of international peace and security."

The Council's reluctance to consult with those affected most by its decisions and its refusal to harness the capabilities of the wider UN membership is not only "anachronistic, but, as our experience repeatedly demonstrates, are also counter-productive," Puri said.

Providing an "Indian perspective" on how the Council can better its performance, he said the foremost necessity is to make the working methods of the Council transparent.

"Access to documentation and information is an issue of particular concern. The tendency of the UNSC holding closed meetings that have no records should also be curbed."

India, which has been on the UNSC as a non-permanent member since January, suggested that non-members must be given systematic access to subordinate organs of the UNSC, including the right to participate.

Puri said the Council should amend its procedures so that items do not remain on its agenda permanently. He said participation of Troop and Police Contributing Countries in decision making of peacekeeping operations must cover the establishment, conduct, review and termination of peacekeeping operations, including the extension and change of mandates, as well as for specific operational issues.

Further, the Council should concentrate its time and efforts on dealing with issues concerning its primary responsibility of international peace and security as mandated by the UN Charter, rather than encroaching upon the mandate of the General Assembly, Puri said.

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Yoshita Singh in United Nations
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