India was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with an overwhelming majority. It garnered 184 votes in the General Assembly that consists of 193 members. The two-year term will begin on 1 January 2021.

This is the eighth time India has been elected a non- permanent member of the UNSC.


The Security Council, the United Nations’ principal crisis- management body, is empowered to impose binding obligations on the 193 UN member states to maintain peace. Few major Roles:

  • Ensuring international peace and security.Recommending that the General Assembly accept new members to the United Nations.
  • Approving any changes to its charter.

So, no changes to the UN charter or no new member can be admitted into UN without the approval of UNSC (as these resolutions require agreement of all the P5 members).


  • It comprises of two kinds of members:
  • Five permanent members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—collectively known as the P5. Any one of them can veto a resolution.
  • 10 non-permanent members: Along with the five permanent members, the Security Council of the United Nations has temporary members that hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region. These members do not have veto powers
  • The reason behind Veto being limited to just five members has roots in WWII. The United States and Soviet Union were the outright victors of the war, and, along with the United Kingdom, they shaped the post war political order.


  • Changing geopolitical situation: UNSC’s membership and working methods reflect a bygone era. Though geopolitics have changed drastically, UNSC has changed little since 1945, when wartime victors crafted a Charter in their interest and awarded “permanent” veto-wielding Council seats for Allied victors.
  • Reforms Long Overdue: UNSC was expanded only once in 1963 to add 4 non-permanent members to the Council. Although the overall membership of the UN has increased from 113 to 193, there has been no change in the composition of the UNSC.
  • Inequitable economic & geographical representation: While Europe is over-represented, Asia is underrepresented. Africa and South America have no representation at all.
  • Crisis of legitimacy and credibility: Stalled reform agenda and various issues including its interventions in Libya and Syria in the name of responsibility have put questions on the credibility of the institution.
  • North-South Divide: The permanent UNSC membership portrays the big North-South divide in the decision making of security measures. For instance, there is no permanent member from Africa, even though 75% of its work is focused on that continent.
  • Emerging issues: Issues such as deepening economic interdependence, worsening environmental degradation, transnational threats also call for effective multilateral negotiations among the countries based on consensus. Yet, all critical decisions of the UNSC are still being taken by the permanent members of the Security Council.


In current circumstances, it has become crucial for UNSC to reform itself and uphold its legitimacy and representativeness. Reform of UNSC encompasses five key issues:

  • Membership: For many years, some member-states have been advocating expansion of UNSC, arguing that adding new members will remedy the democratic and representative deficit from which the Council suffers. Disagreement on whether new members should be permanent or have veto power has become a major obstacle to Security Council reform.
  • Veto: Five permanent members of Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK and USA) enjoy privilege of veto power. This power has been intensely controversial since the drafting of UN Charter in 1945. 75 years later, the debate on existence and use of the veto continues, reinvigorated by many cases of veto- threat as well as actual veto use.
  • Regional representation: Ongoing debate about Security Council reform has focused on expansion of membership of UNSC. The rationale for membership expansion is to include emerging powers on the Council. New single state members could exacerbate regional competition rather than collaboration. Alternative model for Council reform that would give permanent seats to regional organizations or blocs rather than individual countries.
  • Transparency and its working methods: UNSC has taken several steps to increase its efficiency and transparency in recent years. These so-called “cluster 2” reforms do not require an amendment to UN Charter and have not stirred same amount of controversy as debate on expansion of Council has. Security Council now holds more public meetings and consults more frequently with external actors, including NGOs.
  • UNSC & UN General Assembly relationship: Improving quality of interactions between these two organs would provide the Council with additional information and insights to inform its work. In turn, when the member states in the General Assembly feel that they have been consulted and that their views are heard on matters of international peace and security that affect them, the transparency, accountability and legitimacy of the Council are enhanced at a time when the Council is perceived to be struggling to discharge its responsibilities on a number of issues.


India (or any other country for that matter) would want a permanent membership to the UNSC for two reasons:

  • Veto power, which India could use to defend its interests, say against Pakistan (just like Russia did last year over the civil war in Ukraine).
  • Sheer prestige associated with permanent membership of a multilateral forum. India’s elevation will also be an acknowledgment of its rise as a global power, ready to play a key role in the council’s objectives of international peace and security.


  • Population: Around 1/6th of the global population.
  • Democracy: With continuous and functional democratic experience, India is best suited to provide these values into UNSC which is often criticized for acting on behalf of few nations.
  • Economy: India has become the fifth-largest economy in 2019, overtaking the United Kingdom and France. The country ranks third when GDP is compared in terms of purchasing power parity.
  • Military: Responsible Nuclear power; 3rd largest military spender after USA and China.
  • Contributions to UN: India is the largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO), with nearly 180,000 troops serving in 44 missions since it was established. India is also among the highest financial contributors to the UN, with the country making regular donations to several UN organs.
  • Active participation in global affairs: India has not only participated but has also taken lead roles in global matters like climate change, ozone depletion, counter terrorism and rule based global order, etc.
  • Member of G4 nations: Comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Although the case for India’s membership is a sound, but it is not an easy and shredded with many challenges and factors put forth by various nations and factors.

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