United Nations: Asserting that the Security Council "embodies the undemocratic stranglehold" of the permanent members, India has accused them of picking and choosing the world body's principles to suit their own national interests and of being selective in dealing with terrorism.
Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji, in an unsually strong speech, accused the Council Monday of failing to take any concerted action to implement its unanimous resolution passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 which obliges all nations to act against terrorism.
Where it tried to act, he said, the Council was "ambivalently and opaquely" imposing the counter-terrorism measures mandated by its own resolution as far back as 1999. "The listing of the perpetrators of the most heinous of terrorist crimes is subject to whims of powerful member states," he said. "Even brazen public violations of the sanctions regime by listed individuals and entities, far from attracting punitive measures, do not even elicit the mildest censure of the Council."
Speaking at a Council debate on "Maintenance of International Peace and Security" that focused on the principles of the UN Charter, Mukerji faced the five permanent members seated around the circular table in the Council chamber and called into question their commitment to democratic principles.
"It is ironical that calls for democracy and the rule of law are being made in a Council that itself embodies the undemocratic stranglehold of the privileges of a few, forged by a wartime alliance that no longer exists" he said. "The logic of democracy, and the anguished faces of human suffering across the world, call for urgent action to reform the Council. We must do so this year if we are to learn the right lessons from history."
India has been spearheading a campaign for reforming the UN and making the Council more representative by enlarging its permanent membership, which is now restricted to China, Britain, France, Russia and the United States that were considered the victors on World War II. The membership of the UN has risen from 51 members at its founding in 1945 to 193 now, but the Council has since added only four non-permanent members to the six elected seats.
While the Council takes the lead in referring to the UN Charter, Mukerji said, "The Council's invocation of these purposes and principles appear selective, to suit the national interests of powerful member states."
Moreover, he said, "The Council's decisions on issues not directly linked with maintaining international peace and security cannot encroach upon the jurisdiction of the General Assembly, where all of us are equally represented."
India's other criticism of the Council related to its failures to follow the Charter provisions on handling of peacekeeping operations and on resolving international disputes peacefully.
Mukerji said the Council "has so far repeatedly violated, and in fact diluted, the clear provisions" of the Charter that require it to invite non-permanent members contributing troops to participate in its decisions.
Historically, India is the single largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations and currently 8,145 Indian troops, police and experts are serving it.
Referring to the "festering situations in Africa, West Asia and lately Europe," Mukerji said they are "vivid illustrations of the Council's inability or disinclination" to use the Charter provisions for peaceful resolution of international disputes.
These Charter provisions require the Council to seek solutions to disputes through mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement, inquiry and other such efforts.