The Modi government looks determined to use its term at the head of the Security Council and its two-year non-permanent membership of the 15-member body to leave a mark – so that it is missed when its term ends. This approach could smoothen the route to UN reforms and a permanent seat at this august body.
India assumed the mantle of presidency on Sunday. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on tweeted that he looked forward to "working productively" with other members of the United Nations Security Council during its term.
The country will use its term as the rotating president of the UN Security Council to focus on counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, maritime security and the sanctity of maritime laws, a more human-centric globalisation and reforming multilateral institutions.
“As we take over UNSC Presidency for August, look forward to working productively with other members. India will always be a voice of moderation, an advocate of dialogue and a proponent of international law,” he said on the micro-blogging site.
India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has been more forthcoming about India’s ambitions. “Next month, we have one of the most landmark events in our engagement in the UN. We will be president of the UN Security Council in the month of August. We will make the best of our two-year term in the Security Council. We will leave our mark in the Council and our point is to say that India really, by its contribution, establishes the right to be a permanent member of UN Security Council,” he said a fortnight ago.
New Delhi is particularly well-placed to highlight all the points on its agenda, especially on terrorism, maritime law and peacekeeping.
India has been a victim of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism for more than three decades. In fact, as recently as last week, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe that terrorism is the most serious threat to international peace and security
“Any act of terror and support to such acts, including cross-border terrorism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever motives, is a crime against humanity,” he said.
Then, India is the largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Force, having participated in 49 missions and committed a cumulative number of 250,000 personnel, including policemen.
In its new role, India will decide the UNSC’s agenda for August and coordinate important meetings on various issues. Indian Ambassador to the United Nations T.S. Tirumurti told the media that during India’s presidency of the UNSC, its agenda will include meetings on Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and the Middle East. Over this one-month period, the 15-member body will also adopt resolutions on Somalia, Mali, and UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
Read more on India’s involvement in the UNSC:
Then, in a landmark event, a first for India since Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will preside over a meeting of the UNSC, possibly on August 9.
“A first in the making… With India as President of @UN Security Council in August, an Indian Prime Minister may perhaps preside, albeit virtually, a Council meeting for 1st time on 9 August 2021,” India’s former ambassador to the UN Mohammad Akbaruddin tweeted.
“Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister, who has decided to preside over a meeting of the United Nation Security Council… It shows that leadership wants to lead from the front. It also shows that India and its political leadership are invested in our foreign policy ventures,” the retired Indian diplomat told news agency Press Trust of India.
India, which took over the rotating presidency from France, had last month discussed collaboration in the UN with the UK. During his visit to Britain, Foreign Secretary Shringla revealed that he had shared the agenda for the month with his hosts.
“There was also a discussion on how the UK is supportive of our efforts to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council and how it can help us in the UN process, in particular the inter-governmental negotiations that we believe should be based on a text-based process,” he had said.
Besides Modi chairing a meeting of the UNSC, several Indian officials, including Jaishankar and Shringla will also chair high level meetings at the UNSC this month.
An analyst who closely tracks India’s foreign policy told India Global Business: “India has been a non-permanent member of the UNSC in the past. The current term, which began on January 1 this year, in fact, is its eighth. But do you remember any of them? This time, it would seem, India wants to be missed when its term ends.”