By Stéphanie Fillion, Passblue
NEW YORK (IDN) — The presidency of the Security Council is always a high time for a country’s diplomacy, but for India right now, it’s more than that. In August, the country is going to try to show the world why it deserves a permanent seat in the United Nations’ most important body. According to T. S. Tirumurti, India’s ambassador to the UN, the Covid-19 pandemic has once again highlighted the need for major reforms of the Council and India’s long quest for permanency in it.
“If you look at the Security Council, seven of the countries on the Council right now were not even members of the United Nations when the UN was born,” Tirumurti said in an interview on July 28. “When the Security Council cannot accommodate the countries like India and a few others who are knocking at the doors of the Security Council for permanent membership, what happens is the credibility of the institution goes down because it is not representative.”
Mohamed Zeeshan, the author of “Flying Blind: India’s Quest for Global Leadership,” thinks that while India is now more vocal in its bid for a permanent seat by describing the country as independent and not particularly aligned with big powers, it may need to be more assertive on key Council issues to prove its relevance.
“India needs to start playing a much more proactive political and security role in the Middle East, in Africa, all of the civil wars that we’re seeing around the world; in Syria and Libya and Yemen and so on, and far beyond its own neighborhood,” Zeeshan said in an interview with PassBlue. “But I think that we are several years away from seeing that sort of a paradigm shift in Indian foreign policy. And so we’re going to see much more of the same that we have seen over the years from India at the UN-
This month, India is planning a meeting on maritime security on August 9. Ambassador Tirumurti said that India wants to highlight many aspects of maritime security, some of which have been done in detail in the Security Council, like piracy and drug trafficking. “We have had resolutions, but we also want to get the broader structure in place because now we are looking at the global commons, we are looking at the blue ocean economy, so many other things are coming in,” he said.
Zeeshan, however, sees a more strategic reason for India to convene such a meeting. The country is part of the Quad, a partnership among the United States, Japan and Australia that shares a vision for a “rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.”
“Unlike the United States or even Japan, India does not want to name and shame China, so to speak . . . and has not been able to frame itself publicly as a counterbalancing coalition against China because India is very sensitive about doing that for whatever reason,” Zeeshan said about the Quad. “But the core of it, or the objective and intention that India is trying to pursue, is to try and establish some sort of balance of power in the Indian Ocean in particular, and in the South China Sea as well.”
India also intends to focus on counterterrorism, one of its core foreign policy priorities. The Council meeting, on August 19, will coincide with the release of the UN secretary-general’s latest report on ISIS and Daesh. An August 18 meeting on peacekeeping, under the theme “protecting the protectors,” is also scheduled.
Ambassador Tirumurti says India is hoping to pass a resolution to end impunity for crimes against peacekeepers. After the vote on the resolution, if it occurs, the Council will discuss the use of new technologies for peacekeepers, he said.
Even if no meeting on Afghanistan is currently on the Council’s schedule for August, the ambassador said it would keep a close watch on the escalating violence in the country. “I think, in fact I expect that probably the Security Council will be looking at this aspect sooner rather than later,” he told the press on August 2 in his media briefing. [IDN-InDepthNews — 08 August 2021]
* This article first appeared on PassBlue on August 2 and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Stéphanie Fillion is a New York-based reporter specializing in foreign affairs and human rights who has been writing for PassBlue regularly for a year, including co-producing UN-Scripted, a new podcast series on global affairs through a UN lens.
Photo: T. S. Tirumurti, India’s ambassador to the United Nations, leads the monthly rotating Security Council presidency in August. JOHN PENNEY
IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.