India calls for UN Security Council modernisation at UNGA

New Delhi has long sought greater recognition at the UN, including a permanent seat on the Security Council

India calls for UN Security Council reform as it 'aspires to be a leading power'

India calls for UN Security Council reform as it 'aspires to be a leading power'
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India's Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Tuesday called for the reform of the UN Security Council.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Mr Jaishankar highlighted the African Union's recent inclusion as a permanent bloc in the G20 earlier this month and noted that this should serve as an inspiration for the world body to undertake modernisation efforts within the Security Council.

“By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent that has long been denied its due,” he said.

“Next year, the United Nations will be hosting the summit of the future. This should serve as a serious opportunity to drive change champion fairness and reform multilateralism, including the expansion of the Security Council memberships.”

India has long sought greater recognition at the UN, including a permanent seat on the Security Council. It has also been frequently critical of the world body, in part over its desire for increased representation that aligns with its expanding soft power.

During a bilateral meeting at the G20 summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month, US President Biden reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council, with India as a permanent member.

Mr Jaishankar said at the UNGA that the days when only a few nations set the global agenda are over.

“This cannot go on indefinitely,” he told the assembled delegates. “After all, rules will work only when they are applied equally to all.

“The world is witnessing an exceptional period of turmoil. As it is, structural inequities and uneven development have imposed burdens on the Global South.”

The Foreign Minister added that it was with a sense of “exceptional responsibility” that India had taken up the presidency of the G20.

India's rising global power was on full display during the G20 conference in New Delhi this month, particularly through the unveiling of a multibillion-dollar rail and shipping corridor project that aims to link India, the Middle East and Europe.

The enhanced infrastructure aims to boost economic growth, bring countries in the Middle East together and establish the region as a centre for economic activity.

“Our vision of 'One Earth, One Family, One Future' sought to focus on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few,” he said.

Perhaps because of this wider focus, few other agreements were struck at the G20, with nations still divided over hot-button issues such as Ukraine and climate change.

Mr Jaishankar also indirectly addressed Canada and the recent controversy surrounding the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh leader and Canadian citizen who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, in June.

Mr Singh was a member of a secessionist movement focused on the creation of a Sikh homeland called Khalistan. He was branded a terrorist by in India after he was accused of conspiring to kill a Hindu priest in the northern state of Punjab.

“The power of markets should not be utilised to steer food and energy from the needy to the wealthy,” Mr Jaishankar said in his speech. “Nor must we countenance that political convenience determines responses to terrorism, extremism and violence.

“Similarly, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercises in cherry-picking. When reality departs from rhetoric, we must have the courage to call it out.”

Diplomatic relations between the two nations reached its lowest point in years after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that India may have been involved in the killing.

“There is no question that India is a country of growing importance and a country that we need to continue to work with … and we're not looking to provoke or cause problems,” Mr Trudeau said.

“But we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians.”

India has dismissed the accusations as “absurd” and has also suspended new visas for Canadians.

Updated: September 26, 2023, 4:06 PM