India Upset Over UN Security Council Paralysis

By Matthew Pennington 24 September 2013

UNITED NATIONS — India says frustration is building among UN member states over paralysis in the Security Council and its inability to respond to international crises.

The South Asian nation is promoting its years-long effort for expansion of the UN’s most powerful body during the annual gathering of world leaders this week.

India, Brazil, Germany and Japan all want to become permanent council members and are pushing for a reform proposal that world leaders can consider in 2015, when the UN holds its 70th anniversary summit. The council currently has five permanent members.

India’s ambassador to the UN, Asoke Mukerji, told reporters Monday that more than 120 of 193 UN member states support changes to the current structure.

And India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to address the issue in his speech Saturday before the General Assembly.

Since 1979, the UN has been talking about expanding the council to reflect the changing world, not the global power structure after World War II when the United Nations was founded. But every proposal has been rejected, primarily because of rivalries between countries and regions more concerned about their own self-interests than the improved functioning of the UN.

“I think the frustration is being felt now by the international community because they find that the Security Council is completely paralyzed. It does not respond in time to various crises,” Mukerji said. He said the council is unrepresentative and so can’t carry out its mandate in maintaining international peace and security.

Permanent members Russia and China have been at odds with Britain, France and the United States over whether a resolution on destroying Syria’s chemical weapons should be backed up by a threat of force.

The diplomatic wrangling over how to respond to the two-year civil war in Syria is the latest international crisis to put a spotlight on the division among the five veto-wielding members of the council. Disagreements are typically over how threatening and interventionist the world body should be.

The council’s 10 nonpermanent members, which are elected for two-year terms, do not have veto power.

How an expanded council would operate more smoothly if the original permanent members retain veto power is unclear.

There have been nine rounds of inter-governmental negotiations on Security Council reform since the world body mandated a review in 2005, and Mukerji said a 10th round will be held in mid-October.