Thursday, March 17, 2011

Too soon to give Brazil and India permanent seats on UN SC? I object

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"It is the traditional powers in the West that will determine the international response to this crisis -- not because they are favored by global institutions, but because their word is backed by military and diplomatic weight. In contrast, the world's rising economies lack the ability -- and the values -- to project their power on the world stage." Jorge G. Castañeda (professor of politics and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University and former foreign minister of Mexico).

When India and other equally minded countries are looking forward to play a more constructive roles in UN; especially working for getting permanent status and reforming UN SC, it is important for us to know how far we are eligible for these roles. Are we just the crying babies in international politics, who always say "I too" or our current credentials are enough for us to say 'yes we deserve it'? Lets take a look at these issue.

Professor Castañeda continues his article, "These new powers lack the same commitment as the older ones to supranational[sic] institutions and universal values such as human rights, the collective defense of democracy, a robust climate change framework, nuclear nonproliferation, and so forth. Hence, permanent seats on the Security Council for Brazil, India, and South Africa, coupled with greater participation by China, Pakistan, Indonesia, and even Mexico in international agencies or bodies, might weaken the very foundations of the liberal democratic order -- although in this regard, their entrance would also make international bodies more globally representative."

Even if we are agreeing that the the new entrants lacks the commitment in the same level as that of the old ones, we cant accuse any of them solely on the basis of reluctance in participation. Many of these countries came to international arena after the establishment of a world order(after World War II) by old colonial powers. Well, everyone needs time to create political institutions on their own and expand it to accommodate international commitments. Now, when India with more than 1.2bn people (almost 1/6th of world population) is trying to expand her influence internationally and strengthening the international framework further by constructively engaging in UN and other international bodies, isn't it time to give her more importance by giving a permanent status?

As of now the track record of India in Nuclear non-proliferation activities is very clean. Is there any difference in opinion regarding climate change? Its beyond doubt that, rise in global temperature and increasing pollution will adversely affect the entire humanity. We need clean technologies to deal with pollution and global warming; with out a good track record in developing these clean technologies it will be difficult for the countries to maintain economic and ecological balance.

At the same time no one can run away from the fact that, it requires investment. But when you have millions of people living under poverty line; where you will invest? In buying buses - running on fossil fuel - for public transportation or hundreds of green cars? When you have to deliver electricity to millions of home, where you will invest in highly costly nuclear power plants or hydro/coal fired one? Still you can find that, India ranks very below in pollution rankings if anyone bothered to take per-capita emission. There arguments are not to escape from the responsibility of creating a clean environment, there is not doubt that India too will join in the ranks of other developed countries in using clean technologies, but it requires some time [projects like National Solar Mission are indeed a good initiative in that direction].

What is meant by collective defence of democracy? Democracy is not something which one should force on other countries. The institution and framework for democracy should come from the people of that country. As far as India is considered, whatever be the flows, people are still enjoying democratic rights. As far as human rights are concerned, unlike west, eastern countries normally don't attach it with foreign policy. Still we are committed to human rights, and also participate in the UN peace keeping missions.

After opening the economy in 1991, India become more and more active in organisations like IMF, WTO etc. India also signed FTA (Free Trade Area) agreements, CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) with a number of nations. Recent economic engagements with ASEAN, Middle East, South Asia, EU, Korea etc are notable steps from India to economically engage with other countries.

It is true that, we are not often expressing strong views on various global issues. Most of the time our response is very generic, which doesn't support or oppose anything. May be we fear of losing the goodwill by expressing strong negative views on many issues. May be we assume that, being neutral is beneficial in long term. There may be many more reason for that. As Castañeda put forward, if we are looking towards a permanent seat in security council, we should focus more on our values and be able to put forward opinions and suggestions which will constructively help other countries to solve their problems. Issuing late, non-binding statements which doesn't touch anything will not cut much ice in the long term. But it doesn't mean and should not mean forcibly pushing our opinions in to other countries.

When some problem comes countries and people are not looking for good will but for effective action. That may be the explanation for why people from many different countries - where flower revolutions or colour revolutions are going on - still looking towards Washington (even after it become one of the most disliked country in Middle east, especially after Afghanistan and Iraq wars).

Of course we have to go a long way forward, as Professor Castañedas said, in projecting our values etc. Its indeed a good article to remember us where we are and how people are looking towards us. But is it valid enough to deny permanent seat to India? Should we permanently postpone UN reforms? Well I object. There many not be a time better than this for UN reforms.


You can read full article of Professor Jorge G. Castañeda from The trouble with the brics

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