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Returning to the horseshoe table – editorials


At UNSC, India brings a unique set of strengths. Seize it

Updated: June 19, 2020 05:35 IST

Members of the United Nations Security Council at UN headquarters in New York
Members of the United Nations Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York (REUTERS)

India returns to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with a unique opportunity to win friends and influence governments. The nation will assume the non-permanent seat for Asia after a seven-year gap. It does so without opposition, backed by the other Asian member states, and the only other candidate, Afghanistan, is withdrawing due to its proximity to New Delhi. All of this is a reminder that India has traditionally outgrown its weight in the United Nations, in part because of its ability to be a full-spectrum, active member of the Group of 77 developing countries and intimate with the five permanent.

The UN is adrift, paralyzed by great power rivalry and financial difficulties. Substantial multilateralism has shifted to groups like the G-7 and G-20. It is understandable that the smallest and poorest countries feel marginalized within the international system. However, they are essential to many of the biggest international concerns, including the climate crisis and terrorism. This is an opportunity for India to score points, increase its profile and have an international impact despite the lack of money or strength that the United States or China have. Many see a permanent seat as the end of all UN ambitions in India. The point of having such a seat is to be able to persuade other countries to work together. It is only when India shows that it can do things, even when a non-permanent member makes his case so that a seat at the high table becomes incontrovertible.

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