Afghanistan makes way for India to stand for the UNSC seat

In the 1950s, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was accused of turning down a permanent seat at Security Council by both the US and Russia.

Published: 24th November 2013 09:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2013 09:18 AM   |  A+A-

In the 1950s, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was accused of turning down a permanent seat at Security Council by both the US and Russia. He denied it in Lok Sabha. The taint has not gone and the haunting memory of a ‘what if’ scenario looms every time India stakes its claim as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council.

But after Afghanistan formally stepped down Friday, sending a note verbale to the Asia-Pacific group in New York, chaired by Indonesia, informing that it was withdrawing its formal candidature, India has also simultaneously informed the group members that is now ready to announce its candidature as nonpermanent member of UNSC for 2021-22, for which elections will be held in October 2020.

The decision comes within a year after India’s last term as non-permanent seat, indicating that New Delhi recognises that it has to remain on the high table—the 19-year gap between the last two stints at UNSC can’t afford to be repeated.

Simultaneously, India also informed the regional group chair and circulated among the members that it would be standing for the two-year term of 2021-22 as non-permanent member.

South Block had begun the process of identifying a suitable year to stand for a seat at the horseshoe table about three-four months ago.

India declared its candidature, last time in 2006.

The priority was to look for a clean slate election. It means no other candidate was standing for the sole slot available each year for a member from Asia-Pacific regional group.

For 2019-20, Maldives was in the running. It would have a bit awkward to lean on Maldives to step down when it was facing political instability and presidency of Mohamed Waheed was essentially an interim administration. Further, India has already support Maldives’ candidature, publicly.

At the next slot, Vietnam which was standing for elections in 2019, was not too keen to step aside, as it had its own aspirations to be part of the high table.

When India approached Afghanistan, it hit the jackpot. The response from Kabul was positive, despite the fact that it would have its maiden entry to Security Council. Naturally, this carries an IOU tag, but the exact nature of the quid-pro-quo is still be revealed.

As officials said, India can’t afford to be out of UNSC when decisions are made which directly affect national interests. “We are among the top troop contributing countries. We need to be present to shape how the mandate is shaped,” said a senior official.

Perhaps, more than that, it’s about “leverage”. “Being on the council, even as non-permanent member gives immense diplomatic advantage,” he added

As the time for the elections comes near, if no other candidate crops up, the regional group may decide to give endorsement.

Last time, India received endorsement from the then-named Asian group in February 2010, after Kazakhstan had withdrawn its membership. It received 187 votes out 190 valid votes cast for the polls in UN General Assembly.


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