New York: The Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG), Stéphane Dujarric, commended India’s leadership at the international body, adding that Secretary-General, António Guterres, is eager to work with India this year during its G20 Presidency.
“I would say that India has just concluded a very successful two-year term on the Security Council and played a critical role in a number of very important issues. Also, I think [India] through its work demonstrated the importance of active engagement by elected members,” Dujarric, told News India Times in an interview on January 6, 2023, at his office in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
“The G20 is a grouping that the Secretary-General has worked with very closely. He has expressed the need for the G20 – he’s been expressing that need for quite some time now to take strong leadership action on the climate front… issues having to do with reform of international financial institutions, Dujarric said in response to a question about Secretary-General Guterres’s view on India’s G20 Presidency, adding the Secretary-General very much looks forward to working with India during its Presidency.
India began its two-year term (2021-22), as a non-permanent member of UNSC on January 1, 2021, along with Norway, Kenya, Ireland, Mexico, Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, Vietnam and the five permanent members U.S., Russia, United Kingdom, China, and France. During its two-year term, India held the UNSC Presidency twice – in August 2021, and in December 2022.
On December 15th, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar declared India’s candidature for the Council’s non-permanent membership for the 2028-29 term.
On December 14th, at the UNSC Open Debate on ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security: New Orientation for Reformed Multilateralism, Jaishankar said, “Let us recall that at every milestone in multilateral diplomacy, the sentiment for reform has been expressed at the highest levels,” Jaishankar said, adding, “This year too , the UNGA heard calls from more than 70 leaders, more than double the number of 2021. Why then are we failing to deliver on such a strong desire for change?” questioned Jaishankar. “Three decades since the formation of the Open-Ended Working Group on UNSC Reforms, we have nothing to show, for precisely these reasons. This is creating an intense sense of frustration among the wider membership. Attempts to propose piece meal changes will not be accepted by them as an alternative.”
When asked about UNSC reforms, Dujarric who also previously served Secretaries-General Kofi Annan, and Ban Ki-moon noted, “The Secretary-General [Guterres] and the previous Secretaries General that I’ve worked for have all advocated for serious reform of the Security Council. In a way that would give us the Security Council that is much more representational of the world that we live in today 2023, instead of 1945.”
While talking about reforms, Dujarric asserted that the authority rests with Member-States and not with the Secretary-General. “What that reform looks like, how that reform is done, who gets a seat, who doesn’t get a seat are something that Member-States themselves have to coalesce and decide upon. It is not something in which the Secretary-General has any authority or any leverage,” he said. “There are a number of different plans to look at different countries in different groupings. It is up to Member-States through the discussions they’re having in the General Assembly or working group to come up with a working plan.”
India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, has also made strong comments on this issue. “The case for Security Council reform is undeniable. The Council, as it is currently configured, is an anachronism,” Kamboj said Dec. 1, 2022, when India assumed the UNSC Presidency. “I’m happy to tell you that the broad majority of the membership does feel very strongly that enough is enough and reforms are needed… This issue has never been more relevant than it is today, and I’m very hopeful that we will be able to take the process forward, of course, always in collaboration with member states,” she added.
To a question about India’s role as a leading voice in the Global South, Dujarric stressed, “Currently, India has a huge role on the global stage. Historically, [India] has played a leading role in uniting the developing world, especially through its work in the Non-Aligned Movement.”