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UNSC reforms

Recently France has said that India and nations like Germany, Brazil and Japan are ‘absolutely needed’ as permanent members of a reformed and enlarged United Nations Security Council.

What is UNSC and its current composition?

a) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the premier global institution ‘United Nations (UN)’.

b) It is tasked to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations.

c) It also investigates any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction and takes necessary action against the aggressor state.

d) It recommends the admission of new Members.


a) The Council is composed of 15 Members. Out of these, five are permanent members,

- China

- France

- Russian Federation

- United Kingdom

- United States

b) These five states have been given veto powers on any resolutions.

c) Ten non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with the end of term year).

d) A State which is a Member of the United Nations but not of the Security Council may participate, without a vote, in its discussions when the Council considers that the country's interests are affected.

Why there is a need to reform the UNSC?

a) Current UNSC constitution represents the post ‘World War 2’ realities and doesn’t consider the current geopolitics.

b) Though geopolitics have changed drastically, the Council has changed relatively little since 1945.

c) There are no equal representations given regionally. Asia, Europe, and the North American continent are represented while Africa, Latin America, and Australia are not represented.

d) Only five states influencing the interests of the rest of the world, using sometimes veto power, is not desirable.

When did the UNGA start to debate on UNSC reforms?

a) United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) began debating Security Council reform in 1993.

b) Since then several models have been put forward as viable options and several countries have put themselves forward as candidates for permanent membership.

c) However, groups such as the ‘Coffee Club’- Pakistan, Mexico, and Egypt, Italy- opposed adding countries as permanent members and instead proposed that members be elected on a regional basis.

d) In 2005, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan advocated for the democratization of the council. However, the suggested reforms yet to turn into reality.

Who are the top candidates?

a) ‘G4’ countries- Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan, have put themselves forward as the most serious candidates for permanent membership in the Council.

b) The African Group has started to demand two permanent seats for themselves as there is no representation for this continent.

Which are the factors favorable for India?

a) India is a very big country with around 1 billion population. Approximately One of the seven persons in the world is Indian.

b) India is an emerging and fastest growing economy.

c) It is the largest democracy in the world and never been aggressor to other countries.

d) India is playing a big brother role in the South Asian region effectively and has maintained cordial relations with many countries in various continents.

e) Almost all Permanent members (P5 members) are favorable to India’s position as a permanent member in the council.

f) Almost a decade back ago, Chinese President stated that India should be a permanent member because one can’t neglect one billion people.

Where the challenges lie ahead for the reforms?

a) Expanding the council or giving up veto powers can dilute the powers of the existing permanent members. So, they don’t want to give up their power.

b) Reforms can change global power equations and status quos.

c) The greater representation can make the council less efficient.

d) There is no consensus on how to reform the council. There are many models suggested by many organizations. However, no one comes closer to expectations.

e) Many countries or country blocks are asking for representation. However, there is no consensus among them.

E.g. African continent wants two seats. However, there is no consensus on which two countries to be represented.

For India’s membership

a) There is direct and indirect opposition from countries such as Pakistan, China, and a few Islamic countries.

b) India is still known as ‘Third-world country’ or ‘Non-alignment country’ which is known to not take stand on various issues. However, this position should be changed.