Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Uphill battle for India on UNSC seat

UN Security Council Chamber in New York.
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Sanguine and wise analysts in Bharat and the world know that the "Lollipop" given to Bharat on the 3rd day day of the trip--was to salvage an otherwise failed trip. It was inevitable that the ephemeral promise would draw Pakistan and China together and pitch Beijing versus Delhi.

DNA India has put forth the thesis that Mr. Zardari will ask China to stop Bharat's entry into the UNSC. Actually that logic is flawed and sets up false expectations for Pakistanis. China has a mature leadership and understands its profit and loss statement. Italy is a fellow member of the EU with Germany, yet it opposes the Germany candidacy. China would not want its neighbor to the South to become a UNSC member because that would run contrary to its interests.

Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari is expected to persuade his Chinese counterpart to oppose India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during his visit to Beijing.

Zardari will be in China to attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, besides meeting Chinese president Hu Jintao.

On the surface, Pakistani and Chinese leaders will discuss the plan for a fifth Chinese-built nuclear reactor in Pakistan. However, the emphasis will be on new moves on the chessboard of South Asia, especially the Indian bid for UN Security Council membership.DNA India.

Reverberations from Obama's announcement have reached the four corners of the globe. Japan, Germany, and Brazil who were supposedly partners with Bharat have reacted sharply to the Obama Administration's support for Bharat for the UNSC seat. Pakistan had just completed the Strategic dialogue with the US in Washington. None of this was brought up. Before the Obama trip he had informed the press that the UNSC seat "was complicated". Then on the last day, President Obama announced to the Bharati parliament that he would support Bharat's candidacy to the UNSC provided Bharat resolve its problems with the neighbors (read Kashmir).

The promise was called "Probation" the Bharat's leading daily called the "Hindu".

NEW DELHI: With India having got the US's coveted backing for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, two major aspirants to the high table are fuming. Both Germany and Japan went public with their annoyance at their claims being overlooked and made their displeasure known to the US.

In an interview to a TV channel, US ambassador to India Tim Roemer admitted as much. He said the two nations had asked why India had been accorded special treatment and the reasons US saw it as a valued partner. The ambassador indicated that the resistance pointed to the distance that needed to be travelled for UN reform to become a reality.

He also suggested that US backing for India's case showed Washington's determination to pursue its ties with India that president Barack Obama outlined during his visit.

While India has managed to wrest an important pledge from president Obama that may take some time to be realized, it is still crucial. So far, Washington had only supported Japan for a permanent seat at the UNSC even though it opposed the G4 (a group that included Japan, Germany, Brazil and India).

With Obamas announcement on Monday, the US has shifted its own stance to accommodate India. But that doesn't mean the G4 to which India has tacked its own aspirations is in the clear yet.

Security Council reform is not only about putting India into the body. The issues at stake are what should be the ideal size of a new UNSC; whether the new members would have veto rights, the number of permanent and non-permanent members, its relations with the UN General Assembly, whether there should be regional representation.

Officials said the UN's body debating the inter-governmental negotiations will restart their deliberations soon. The US show of support will make a difference to India and Japan. Not to Germany, which is opposed by Italy and by many other countries who say giving a permanent seat to Germany would put a third seat in Europe (fourth, if you count Russia as a European power), at a time when European power is in decline. Besides, EU was asking for a separate status for itself in the UNGA, they argue.

Africa is a problem too. There is general consensus that Africa should have two seats in the UNSC, but which two countries? Even the African Union is divided on that. There can't be UNSC reform without the Africans because then the world runs the risk of all 53 African countries boycotting.

Then there is China. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday, when questioned, said, China values India's status in international affairs and understands India's aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations and is ready to keep contact and consultations with India and other member states on the issues of Security Council reform.

But even if China can be made to digest an Indian membership, as at the NSG, its not going to be so easy for Japan, which even has South Korea opposing it. Brazil is opposed by Mexico and Argentina (since its the only Portuguese-speaking country in a Spanish-speaking continent), and of course, Pakistan opposes India. These countries had formed the Coffee Club, later renamed United for Consensus, and will most likely be resurrected again, perhaps with tacit Chinese support.

How many permanent members should the new UNSC have? The US wants around 19 members (in both categories). The G4 position is more sensible that's India, Brazil, Japan and Germany, two African countries and three added to the non-permanent list. There are other ideas floating around UK, France and Liechtenstein proposed an interim arrangement for 10 years and a review thereafter. The Chinese are more non-specific and have just said they want more seats for developing countries.

Veto? India will fight to the end for the veto. But many countries say they can live without it, because the veto is not used anymore and lobbying for support is the way to go in the Council. But veto, like nuclear weapons, is a currency of power. That battle, therefore, will continue.

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